Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Happy New Year .... From January 1916

Happy New Year! 

I wish to thank all of my readers this past year. It's quite hard to believe that I started this blog one year ago. I've came up with a schedule and have many blog posts in the pipe line already. I will also continue to post on a Wednesday morning.

Now, for my first blog post of the New Year, I want to take us back 100 years ago to January 1916, to see how people celebrated then.

100 years ago, the New Year was celebrated in very quiet style. After all, the country was going into its second year of war, and morale was naturally low after so many had died already.

"In spite of the fact that the country is at death grips with the enemy beyond the narrowest channel that divides England from the Continent the old custom of 'first footing' was largely indulged in, but in somewhat more restrained fashion that usual, and with the dismal shadow hanging over every nation in Europe, belligerent and neutral, the usual seasonal greetings can hardly be spoken anywhere without some touch of irony with the nation giving to death so many of the best and brave of their sons, there could not be but a brooding and prevailing sadness, no matter how stern and sincere our wishes."

Despite the general feeling of the country, there were still some celebrations to be found in Northumberland. 

There was a fruit banquet held at the Dudley United Methodist Church, which was well attended. The church choir sang, an organist played and people gave numerous recitations. All in all, a very varied programme. At the end of the evening, fruit was handed out to all who attended.

In Morpeth, the inmates of the workhouse were treated to a grand dinner of roast beef, roast mutton and plum pudding. As a New Year's gift, the women received a packet of tea and sugar, whereas the men received a pipe and a quantity of tobacco each. Apples and oranges were also served. In the evening a concert was put on by the children, in which they performed songs, sketches and dances.

In Gosforth the children were treated to a cinematograph show, and afterwards given presents of a toy or game, crackers, oranges and sweets. They were all gifts of a charitable couple who lived in Corbridge. 

There was somewhat of an absence of celebration in Blyth. The New Year was usually ushered in with the ringing of church bells and colliery buzzers. There were no bazaars or church parties. "First-footing" was as common as before however, and Blyth was fairly lively after midnight with people visiting neighbour's homes, taking luck and goodwill with them. There was also an absence in the customary sword dancers and "guisers", but thankfully in local crime too it should be noted too! 

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