Antrim & Down – 1 January

William Conor – Lamp-post Swinging. National Museum of Northern Ireland

 ‘On New Year’s Day about the suburbs of County Down side of Belfast, the boys go about carrying little twisted wisps of straw, which they offer to person whom they meet, or throw into their houses, as New Year’s offerings, and expect to get in return a small present, such as a little money or a piece of bread. About Glenarm, on the coast of County Antrim, the “wisp” is not used, but on this day the boys go about from house to house, and are regaled with bannocks of oaten bread, buttered; these bannocks are baked specially for the occasion, and are commonly small, thick and round, and with a hole through the centre. Any person who enters a house on New Year’s Day must either eat or drink before leaving it.’

Thiselton Dyer, British Popular Customs Past and Present  1900


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