The coming of the New Year has been celebrated since well into antiquity, but never has it been so well and truly celebrated than in the British Isles, especially during the Regency period. Many of the customs practiced in England, Scotland, and Ireland had roots in Ancient Rome (with the Saturnalia), Ancient Scandinavia, and Ancient Celtic cultures.
The New Year’s toast has its origins in the medieval period, when goblets were clinked liberally during the evening while wishing one another “Waes Hael” or “Be Well.” It was called a “toast” because pieces of toasted bread were put into the cups—like croutons—perhaps to enhance the flavor of the drink.
The Vikings celebrated the season of Yule—giving name to our Yule log for Christmas—which comprised what we now call “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
Many of our New Year’s customs come from the Scottish celebration of Hogmanay. A bonfire is lit to represent several different things: the light of knowledge passing from one year to the next, the putting of darkness of the past behind you and carrying light forward to the future. Continue reading ““Auld Lang Syne”– New Year’s Celebrations in Britain by Jenna Jaxon”