Happy New Year
Happy New Year, everybody.
In my post on New Year's Eve I mentioned that it was traditional for a man to be sent out of the back door at the end of the old year, bearing a lump of coal, to be welcomed in at the front door (still carrying the coal) when the new year had arrived. As we drove to Braemar on Hogmanay Hilary and i were discussing this and other New Year traditions, and realised we hadnlt encountered that particular one elsewhere. We wondered if it was a Braemar thing, but it turns out to be a Lancashire one (Sue, our hostess, hails from Bolton). I was born in Manchester but we moved out to Stockport (in Cheshire) before I was old enough to be seeing the New Year in. Also, my parents both came from Dorset, so all our neighbours could have been dancing eightsome reels, burning witches, or doing all manner of seasonal weirdness without their taking part (I get the impression that Dorset - even their home of Portland, which has a certain unique wackiness - isn't big on New Year traditions.) Anyway, my partial circumambulation of the Braemar house was duly accomplished, whereupon I re-entered and was plied with much Talisker. Now there is a New Year tradition I can approve of.
The Scottish news had its usual coverage, not only of the Edinburgh street party and fireworks (which are shown live on TV, interleaved with music from the studio which featured various folk we knew including a former boss of Hilary's) but of the amazing local New Year customs in Stonehaven and Kirkwall. The former is a relic of Norse fire festivals, the latter a vision of what rugby was like before they invented pitches, or rules.