Irish New Year traditions that span the centuries

Unique ancient customs and superstitions from Ireland associated with ringing in the new year.

Ireland is home to some of the most unique traditions and superstitions and this is especially true when it comes to ringing in the New Year.

1. An early Spring clean

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Centuries ago, it was customary to begin the New Year with a spotlessly clean house. As a result, houses were thoroughly cleaned as it signified a fresh start to the New Year.

2. Getting rid of bad luck

Another tradition involved banging on doors and walls of the house with Christmas bread to chase the bad luck out of the house and invite the good spirits in.

3. Honoring the dead

On New Year’s night, families would remember those who has passed away the year before by setting a place for them at the dinner table and leaving the door unlatched.

4. Predictions for the New Year

A lot of meaning was also placed on who would be the first person to pass through the door on New Year’s Day. If it was a tall dark handsome man, this would bring the home and its occupants good luck, but if it was a red-haired girl it would bring hardship and grief.

5. And if you were single ... 

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Those who were single were advised to place sprigs of mistletoe, holly, and ivy leaves under their pillow so they would dream of their future wives and husbands.

6. Good luck on the stroke of midnight

At midnight, many would enter the house through the front door and leave through the back door for good luck.

Do you know of any other Irish New Year traditions? Please tell us, below.

*Originally published December 2014.