Friday, 31 December 2010

New Year Custom - Wisps

Perhaps as far back as 35 years ago when I was at primary school and into my early teens it was customary to make then sell wisps.

What I hear you ask yourself? Well wisps were simply a handful of straw around 6 - 8 inches long - both ends were bent over and tied with a piece of straw of string - that was it.

We - that's my brothers and a few friends, would get a bale of straw, we kept horses so straw was readily available and spent 30th and 31st December making the wisps. We then walked around the local neighbourhood, selling the wisps door to door on old years night - no set price just a donation to our sweets fund!

Wisps were said to bring good luck to your household so there were plenty of superstitious folk willing to part with a few schillings to ward off evil spells or curses.

Now, I am not sure of the correct history of this custom, perhaps I will look a little deeper and try to find out - but bringing good luck was certainly why we Anderson's kept a wisp behind a picture or painting at home.

On a similar theme, last year I invited 2 x retired school teachers to Loughries summer school to show the children through a craft workshop how to make corn dollies - its an old countryside tradition and proved very successful with the children - I will try to look out a couple of pictures to show what I mean by the corn dollies or follow this link -

http://www.strawcraftsmen.co.uk/project04.php

HMA

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