Victorian New Year!

 New Year celebrations have changed over time, even from the beginning to the end of the Victorian era. Prince Albert may have introduced the tradition of the Christmas tree from Germany, but Queen Victoria was obsessed with everything Scottish. There was no bigger holiday during the year in Scotland than New Year’s Eve and Day where it is known as Hogmanay or Hegmena and the Queen passed her passion on to her subjects.

Traditions associated with Hogmanay include gift giving, which was already popular in England. In wealthier households, New Year was the time for gift giving and payments of rewards to loyal servants.
 ‘First Foot’ is the Hogmanay tradition of bearing gifts as the first person to cross a threshold after the stroke of midnight. During Victorian times, the guest brought symbolic gifts of black bun (a rich fruit cake), shortbread, coal, salt, and whiskey. The gifts foretold the family’s fortune for the year. It was considered lucky if the gift giver was male and dark haired. Blonde hair was an omen for trouble..
 Another foretelling of the future was associated with what you were doing at midnight. It was thought that whatever you were doing at midnight would be what you would do for the coming year. This might be why going out and socializing was a popular thing to do at the New Year. Staying home and going to bed might foretell illness or worse during the coming year. 
Other superstitious include throwing out ashes from the hearth. Throwing them out the night before allows for a clean slate to start the new year right.
 Every person, no matter how young, should also have money in their pocket on New Year’s Day. To not do this was to risk poverty during the coming year. 
Tradition holds that the pig or hog is a symbol of fatness and plenty. Tradition also teaches that because a pig roots forward for its food, having pork signifies progress and moving forward in life during the coming year.
New Year’s Eve was no extraordinary affair among Victorian high society. But New Year’s Day was marked by a marathon of social traditions. 

 Wealthy Victorians would hold open houses, inviting all the local eligible bachelors into their homes to meet their unmarried daughters. 
 A young man would  receive invitations from a number of households and would spend 15 minutes or so chatting with the resident young woman (or women) therein before moving on to his next engagement.

  Gentlemen visited many homes on New Year’s Day and eligible bachelors left their calling cards to show they’d visited. Sometimes, it was a competitive event to see how many homes could be visited before the end of the day.

 New Year’s celebrations moved from New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day. During the latter part of the 19th century, the wealthy served guests a wide and varied buffet and egg nog laced with bourbon, rum, or brandy. Everyone donned in their holiday finery. 

 Raucous behavior saw the holiday evolve from being an open house to invitation only affair.
Well, with this knowledge, I wish all my Victorian friends a safe, healthy and prosperous 2018th.

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