Newfoundland, New Year's and New Clothes

New Year's Eve/Day have always been pretty much non-events for me.

From the time I was 5 years old (and maybe earlier) I've been ruled by the academic calendar.  September is when my new year starts and January first means nothing but a new calendar and a six-week period of getting the date wrong every time I write it.

It's not that I never do anything to mark the occasion. Sometimes there's a nice meal. Sometimes there's a party.  As often as not though, I'm asleep well before midnight on the 31st -- until the neighbourhood fireworks wake me up.  As I write this, I realize I probably greet most new years with a string of profanity.  It may be my most consistent New Year's tradition.

Scratch that.

My most consistent New Year's tradition comes to me through my great-grandmother.  She believed it was important to welcome the new year in new clothes.  As a kid, I always made sure to save some clothes that I got for Christmas to wear for the first time on January first.  I don't know the origin tradition, I guess it was considered auspicious to walk into the coming year fresh, without any fraying.  I don't know how widespread the custom is or where my great-grandmother picked it up.  She lived a large piece of her life on an island in Bonavista Bay, until she resettled and moved to Burnside on the Eastport Peninsula where she was known, speaking of Newfoundland customs, as Aunt Rachel.

She died, well into her 90s, more than 15 years ago.  I didn't ever think to ask her about the new clothing custom, which is a shame because I'm sure she'd have been able to tell me.

Is this new clothing custom something a lot of people do? If it's part of your experience, I'd love to hear about it.

I've heard about the Newfoundland tradition firing riffles at midnight to welcome the New Year.  Are there any other local or unique New Year's customs?


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