[Christine O’Keeffe’s New Year’s Customs]

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Yn Vlein Noa: Scottish New Years Day Customs
New Year’s Day in Gaelic is An Nollaig Bheag: Little Yule. In Britain and Scotland apple orchards are wassailed on New Year’s Day. Apple cider is poured on roots and lower branches of orchard trees, while cake and toasted bread soaked in cider are hung from the branches. Oak and apple trees are honored for the victory of the Oak King, King of the Waxing Year, over the Holly King, King of the Waning Year. The largest tree, known as Apple Tree Man in Somerset, England, is selected. Shouting, banging tin plates, firing shotguns, and splitting the bark of the tree are done to drive away evil spirits. Songs and toasts of Huzzah are made.
Later, bands of men called wassails go from house to house with a wassail bowl collecting money. The bowl contains an alcoholic beverage of: hot ale, apples, spices, and cream or beaten eggs called La Mas Ubhal: Day of Apple Fruit (pron. Lambs’-wool) or wassail. Wassail is from the Anglo-Saxon word wase haille meaning good health. (4, 5)
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