KIDS’ CRAIC: Irish New Year Traditions Over the Centuries
by Dottie Wenger
The Irish are known for ancient customs and superstitions regarding the ringing in of each new year, a few fun examples include:
- House Cleaning: Years ago, it was customary to begin the New Year with a spotless house. So, the final days of the previous year were spent thoroughly cleaning the house. This signified a fresh start to the New Year.
- Honoring the Departed: On the first night of the New Year, families would remember those who passed away the previous year by setting a place for them at the dinner table and leaving the house unlocked.
- Getting Rid of Bad Luck:This tradition involved banging on the doors and walls of the house with Christmas bread. This was thought to remove bad luck from the house and invite good fortune in for the New Year.
- Wishing for a Spouse: Single men and women often would put sprigs of mistletoe, holly and ivy leaves under their pillow. By doing this, it was believed they would dream of their future husband or wife.
- Predicting Luck – Good or Bad – in the New Year: There have been superstitions about the first visitor to the house on New Year’s Day.If a tall, dark handsome man was the first to pass through the door, it meant that the family would have good luck that year. But if it was a girl – especially a red – haired one! – hardship and grief would visit the home.
- Setting the Stage for the New Year at the Stroke of Midnight: Many Irish folks would, as the clock struck twelve, enter the house through the front door and exit through the back door. This was another way in which it was thought a family could ensure good luck in the New Year.
Gaelic Phrase for Kids’ Craic:“Athbhliaian faoi mhaise duit.”
Pronounciation: ah-vleen fwee vosh-ah gwit
Translation:“A happy and prosperous New Year to you.”