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New Year Traditions

    English New Year

    In England crowds of people gather in Trafalgar square, and Piccadilly Circus as well as stand around to hear the chimes of London's Big Ben announces the arrival of the New Year. Everyone stands around with arms linked to sing Auld Lang Syne.

    In England the custom of first-footing is important. The reason is that it is supposed to ensure good luck for the inhabitants of the house. The first-footer must be male, young, healthy and good looking. He must be dark-haired and he should be carrying a small piece of coal, money, bread, and salt. These are the symbols of wealth.

    The custom of exchanging gifts was transferred to Christmas it was originally done at New Year, when the Lord of the Manor was given samples of produce by his tenants and peasants, while he gave a valuable gift to the Queen or King. The Englishman gave their wives money to by pins for the coming year. This Tradition died, but, the expression "pin money" is still used to describe the money set aside for personal use, especially if given to a woman by her husband.

    On New Year's Day children from England and Great Britain rise early to make the rounds to their neighbors singing songs. They are given coins, mince pies, apples and other sweets for singing. This must be done by noon or the singer will be called fools.

    The Burning Bush is a nineteenth century custom carried into the early years of this century. In Radnorshire and Herefordshire farmhand would get up early before dawn on New Year's Day and carry a hawthorn bush to the field. They were burnt in straw on the wheat field. It was a symbol of good luck for the farmers. The bushes sometimes hung in the kitchen until the next year.

    In England girls would drop egg whites into water. They thought it would form the first letter of the name of the man they would marry.

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