Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

And also, Happy Eighth Day of Christmas.

Victorian family reading, 1850, from Mrs. Gilman's Gift Book.

Wake and see the morning ray--
This is happy new year's day!
View your toys and presents gay,
This is happy new year's day!
Brother, sister, come and play,
This is happy new year's day!
Father, mother, hear me say,
A happy, happy new year's day!
Waiting maids and nurses grey,
To you a happy new year's day!
Friends at home, and friends away,
May you enjoy your new year's day!
And while I laugh, and skip, and play,
I'll thank God for the new year's day!
--Caroline Gilman, Mrs.Gilman's Gift Book, 1850
The Saturday Magazine has a short article on the historic practice of giving gifts at New Years. At that time (1840), sweetmeats and jewelry were the popular presents in France, while the English favored commemorative "annual" books.  More modest presents are also welcome as "the presentation of almost any trifle was, and even now is, considered a momento of good feeling at this season".  The practice was nonetheless falling out of favor--it's called "obsolete" in 1843, amid a description of festivities among Shakespeare's contemporaries (which sound quite excellent, featuring gifts, wassailing, and cross-dressing).

Of course, this is also an excellent excuse to revisit "New Year's Cookies".


  1. I wish you a very happy new year, too, Beth. :)

    To start it off, I have nominated your blog for an award here:


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