My attitude towards New Year’s Eve this year was summed up rather well when I went to Asda this afternoon to buy ‘the boys’ – our 2 cats, Jarvis and Marvin – some cooked chicken. They like this as a treat, and whilst New Year’s Day lunch will feature roast beef, the boys just don’t like beef as much as chicken or turkey, so out to Asda I went.
I found myself in the checkout queue with a number of people carrying various bottles of champagne, sparkling white wine and Buck’s Fizz. Me? Some chicken and a tub of Ovaltine.
New Year’s Eve has never been a big event at Pritchard Towers; typically it’s Jools Holland, drink the New Year in, then off to bed. This year it’s been reading, dozing, then suddenly noticing that it’s 2 minutes to midnight. Could we be bothered to drink the New Year in? Nope. But we did enjoy the thunderous roar of the fireworks around the neighbourhood – I decided that it was the New Year finishing off the Old Year in a fusilade of gun fire, with a final ‘kill shot’ coming from a large firework that shook the house.
No Jools Holland, no sparkly drinkies. This year we just didn’t feel up to it; I think we were just glad to get shut of 2016 as quickly as possible with as little palaver as possible.
I come to New Year’s Eve with a small collection of superstitions from my childhood.
I was very popular as a ‘first footer’ as an older child – I had dark hair (which apparently is good) and would be shooed out of the house just before midnight, armed with a piece of shortbread and a piece of coal. After the stroke of midnight, I’d be welcomed in to the house and the shortbread and coal were to signify that no one in the house would be hungry or cold in the coming year.
It was also important to go in to the New Year with no clothes drying around the house, and no pots waiting to be washed or washing in the washing machine. The idea was that the state of the house would give an indication as to what things would be like in the coming year. A sort of ‘start as you intend to go on’.
Both of these superstitions suggested some sort of ‘sympathetic magic’ in which what happened at New Year influenced the year to come, and if that’s the case my 2017 will be a mixed bag indeed. The first thing drunk in 2017 has been a cup of tea, the first thing done was to then put a hot water bottle in the bed. I then fed the cats, cleared up a small turd left in the bathroom by Jarvis, finished writing my intercessionary prayers for Evening Prayers tomorrow evening, and wrote this blog post.
On this basis, my 2017 will be based around tea, hot water bottles, cat-care, God and writing.
I could do worse.
Happy New Year!