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Of all the many festal customs of modern society there are few which can boast of greater antiquity, interest and unversality than those which are prac ticed on the celebration of the first day of the year, or New Year's Day, though many of its observances which once en joyed popularity are now almost wholly obsolete. The twelve days—December 2C to Jan uary 6—have long been recognized as indices of the weather during the follow • ing year. The ancient texts distinctly assert this, a Sanscrit probcrb running: "The twelve nights are an image of tho year," and another from the same source refers to the same period: "The Rhibbus (storm demons) sleep for twelve nights and days in the house of the sun-god Savitar. The Greeks held similar ideas regard ing the weather of this period, connect ing it with a Action regarding the king fisher, so that the name of that bird has given us a saying strongly expressive of mild weather. Plutarch has this testi mony to offer: "But when tho halcyon brings forth, about the winter Solstice, the whole ocean remains < aim and undis turbed, without the wrinkle of a wave. So that there is not any creature for which man has so great an affection, see ing that for her sake, for seven days an ' nights together, in the depths of winti I they sail without fear of shipwreck, a may thus voyage on tho sea with gri safety than they travel on land." In Northern Germany it is said that: the weather is during each of the tw< l\ days, so will it be during the correspond Ing months of the year to come. A Ilk belief still exists in Lancashire and Northamptonshire. England. In i : part of the United States it is said thai "the three first days of January rule th coming three months," while in anothi r place twelve days are said to bo "thei keys of the year." A popular rhyme, current in England and not unknown on this side of the wa ter, attributes great influence to the weather of New Year's eve. If New Year's eve night wind blow from south It betokeneth warmth and drouth; If west, much milk and flshlnsea; If north, much cold and storm there'll be; If east, the trees will bear much fruit; If north, flee It. man and beast. The first day of the year is often re garded as the proper time to make cer tain divinations with reference to many events affecting the future. The master of the family then tempts fate by open ing the Bible with his eyes shut, and ob taining from the passage first touched with his finger some indication of the events of the coming year. MARKS OF TIME The ancient Romans, from tho time of the Julian reformation of the calendar, observed the first day, or the "calends." "of January as a public holiday, mark ing the beginning of a new year. Tho day and the whole of the ensuing month was dedicated to the god Janus, from whom it derives its name of January, and whom they represented as a man with two faces, one looking backward, the other forward, implying that If Stood between the old and tho new year, with a regard to both. Ovid and other Latin writers of that age allude to the suspension of all litiga tion and strife, the reconciliation of dif ferences between friends, tho smoking altars and tho white robed processions to the capitol upon the first day of Janus, or New Year's day, as it is now termed. This approximates closely to the mode adopted by tho Chinese of observing their New Year. The writers alluded to also tell of the exchanging of visits, the giving and n - ceiving of presents, or "strenal;" the masquerading and the feasting with which the day was celebrated through out tho Roman empire. Th" modern dude, who, until the old custom was al lowed to fall int.. abeyance, donned his swallow-tailed coat and white tie and sallied forth to visit his lady friends, was not aware that his prototype, the Roman dude, arrayed in a new shirt and toga, went upon precisely tho same er rand more than 2000 years ago. From the birth of Christianity the par ticipation of Christians in the festival observances of New Year's day was vig orously opposed by the church. Rut about the fifth century tin- 25th of Do comber had gradually become a fixed festival commemorative of the Lord's nativity, whereupon the first of January assumed a specially Bacred character also as the octave of Christmas .lay. and as the anniversary of Christ's circum cision. As such it still holds a subordi nate place in the calendars of tic- vari ous branches of the eastern and the western church. Although the giving of gifts upon New Year's day has to a great extent been superseded in the present time by tho giving of Christinas gifts, the custom is one of the oldest, as it was formerly one of the most universal, observances of the occasion. The Persians exchange 1 eggs. The Druids distributed as New Year's gifts among the early Britons branches of the mistletoe cut with pecu liarly solemn ceremonies. Tho early Sax ons observed the festival of New Year's with feasts and gifts. Among tho ancier I Romans the "strenal" or New Year's present, already alluded to, was not only exchanged between relatives and friends, but was exacted by tho emper ors from their subjects. Under tho Caesars these New Year's presents be came such a source of profit to the sov ereign, and so onerous a burden to the people, that Claudius limited their cost by v decree. GIFTS BY COMMAND Henry 111. of England followed thi Roman precedent in extorting New Year's gifts from his subjects, tho prac tice being revived in the reign of Henry VI, and continuing until tin- reign of Charles I. But it was during tho re ign of ' Good Queen Bess" that tho custom ob tained its greatest und most extrava gant height. Those presents wore made by every one in any way connected with the Virgin Queen, from thegn at officers of state down to her majesty's dustman, and Incduded sums of money, ornaments for the queen's person or apartments, caskets studded with precious stom s, necklaces, bracelets, gowns, mantles, petticoats, fans, mirrors, silk stockings and a great variety of other articli B Howell states in his "History of lb. World" that Queen Elisabeth in I.'. Cl was presented with a pair of black sill, knit stockings by her silk woman, Mrs Montague, and "thenceforth she ncvei The Old Year Extends Hearty Greeting to the New Drawn For the Herald by C. P. Underwood, who has won fame abroad wore cloth hose any more." Tho queen't wardrobe is said to have boon almost wholly BUpplied by those New Yeur'f gifts, in return for which she made presents of gold and silver plate. The custom of giving Now Year's pres ents to English sovereigns ceased wltt the establishment of the commonwealth in the days of Oliver Cromwell and hat never been revived. At the time of the Protectorate there was a reaotlor against the keeping up Christmas fine: New Year's festivals with songs and revelry, according to ancient custom This was satirized in tho following lines: The- high shoe lord? of CrotmwelV" making Were not for dainties—wasting, baking; The chief, s; food they found most g:io.l In Was rusty bacon ar.ld baa puddlmr; Plum broth was popish and mince pic— Oh. that was Hat idolatry. These prejudices passed away in time and the descendants of the Puritans an among the most renowned for tho com posing of substantial dainties—am; mince pies among the number. Till-: LADY'S PIN MONET All ladies know what pin money Is but it is not generally known how th. expression came to be used or that It If directly connected with New Year'! day. Until tho beginning of tho six teenth century tho only pins used bj the poorer classes we're made of wood; in fact, tiny were not pins at nil, but skewers, which, for the use of thi wealthy, were made of boxwood, bone and silver. At the period named the metal pins In use wore invented am the ladies of fashion were eager ti possess them. They at one-o beoaine the most popular and acceptable Now Tear'S gift for ladies, but it soon be LOS ANGELES HERALD: SUNDAY MORNING, DECEMBER 26, 1897 ; came customary to give, instead of the pins themselves, the money with which to purchase them, and this was called j "pin money," a term which gradually came to be applied to all money given to ladies tor the general purposes of dress arid personal adornment. "WAES-HAEL" T< I ALL Tn many countries a superstition has prevailed regarding tho complexion ol the first caller on Now Year's day, Inasmuch as it Indicated tho good or ill fortune that would attend the house during the follow ing y.ear. In Scotland j when the chimes begin to play out the I old und ring in the new year, the young jand, indeed, very many old men start I out ' first footing," that being the term applied to New fear's calling. Kach 'one burdens himself with some short j cake or bannocks, made of oatmeal, and a bottle of whisky. At every visit a lit tle hit of bread is broken and a sip of wine taken and assurance thus given 1 .if tho prosperity that the caller has . liiought lo the house. Hut the first caller must bo fair-haired, for that is tin indication of good luck, while if it | should i.o a brunette the opposite would ibe the i ffect "f his visit. .Many families, Indeed, have been known to have ar ranged with some blonde friend to be the "first foot"' and bring the New Year Among tho oldest and most Interesting ,of New Year's customs, although never practiced in this country, have been those pertaining to the wassail bowl. Wassail Is an Insinuating and seductive i. mpound of hoi ale, spices, sugar, toast and apples, and is believed to have orig | iuated about the time of the Saxon in vasion of England, its name being de- I rived from the Anglo-Saxon "wae.! hael," or '-110 in health." Among the early Anglo-Saxons the phrases" waes hael" and "drinc-hael" were the custom ary ones between friends when about to pledge one another, being equivalent to the "Hero's luck," tho ungrammatlcal "Drink hearty" and the absurd "How?" of the \\ i stern bar-room. Thus tho phrase "waes-hael"—soon corrupted to "was-halle" and finally to "wassail"— came to be applied to the drink described which was made only between Christ mas and New Year's day, the season of all others when men overflowed with kindly feelings toward their follows anil wished them "waes-hael," or good health und all the material blessings which tho various Ingredients in tho liquid com pound symbolized. It became customary to have a huge bowl ol" wassail at every New Year's feast. Decorated with holly, it was borne into the hall with ceremonial hon ors. The master of tho house would take a draught und then pass it to tho guest silting ul his right, who also drunk from the steaming bowl and passed it to bis next neighbor, this being continued un til the wassail bow l had gone around the table and everyone present hud quaffed of its contents, Tho custom continued in England all through tho middle uges, and oven centuries afterward, and it is yet maintained by certain of the wealthy landowners in England with their ten antry. Tho kindred custom of young women going about tho streets with wassail bowls and offering them to pas sers-by, who wore expected to reward tho fair HebeS for their hospitality with a donation of money, has fallen altogeth- er into disuse. That rare old gossip, Mr, Pepys, tells in his diary how, on New Year's day, 1661, he was offered the was sail bowl by one of these damsels, who sang for him "very sweetly," it being j often customary for these wassail lasses to sing appropriate songs while tho was sail was being quaffed. Tho wassail bowls which these girls carried were prettily adorned with ribbons and gar lands. Warton, the antiquary, says the wassail bowl was identical with the "gossip bow l" mentioned by Shako-J speare in the ".Midsummer Night's j Dream." A NEW YEAR'S CHALLENGE In the Highland regiments of the Brit ish army the now year is inaugurated with quaint ceremony. At Aldershot, at five minutes to midnight, the band and] pipers of tlo- regiment, preceded by "Father Time"—the oldest soldier in the ranks in costume, with hourglass und| scythe—play across the square and out i of tho barrack goto, which is closed be hind them, while tho strains of "Auldl Lang Syne" die away in tho distance. As j the clock strikes tho midnight hour a] knock is heard at the barrack gate. To the sentry's challenge, "Who goes there?" comos back the answer: "Tho Now Tear." "Advance, New Year, all's well," replies the sentry; the gates arc thrown open, tho guard turned out, arms arc brought to tho present, and tho now year, represent ed by the youngest drummer boy, in full Highland costume, is carried shoulder high, preceded by tho pipers of tho regi ment. The round of the barracks is made, a halt is called at the officers 1 meSS, and there healths arc drunk. The Baptist church, on Broad street, Philadelphtai relnatituted an old cus om within the last few years, which, tradition says, began when Christ was bun. and was kept up for many years liv the Arabians who became Chris tuns. On the eve of Christmas, New Year's and Eaßter an orchestra ap pears on the balcony of the temple at midnight, and for an hour the music of sa>red hymns fills the air and penetrates 1 fat Into the night. The music seems \ especially sweet and weird at that hour of he morning, but no complaint has j eve been received from people whoso slumbers have been disturbed. ALBANAC MAKERS, OLD AND NEW Wth th" New Year we all betake our solvei toi now almanacs. And these almaiacs of ours are very different from those of the fifteenth and sixteenth cen turies Here is the title page of one of them: In gtossleaclon and an Almanack fas tened bgether, declaring the Dlapoolislon of th" teople and also of the Wether, with certain Kleetyons and Tymes chosen both for Phlttke and Burgerye, and for the hus bandmel. And also for Hawkeyng, Hunt -1 yr:g. Khhyng and Foulynlge, according to j tho BctetCe of astronomy, made for the I year of lur Lord God M, D. R., Calculed for the jferydyan of Yorke, and practiced | by A.tiiluny Askhnm. I Imprinted at Loaidon, in Flete street, at I Sign" of ho George, next to Saint Duns | tun's Chu-ch, by William Powell, cum prl | vliegio ad lmprlmendum solum. I Thou fdlows the Prognostication, the I title pageto which is as follows: I A Prcgnugsleaolon for the Yere of our i Lord MCirCf'L, Calculed upon the Me ' rydyatl' of he Town of Anwarpe and the Country tfereabout, by Master Peter of Moorbocke,Doctor In Physioke of the same Towne, whe-eunto Is added tho Judgement of M. Oorniellus Sehute. Doctour ml I'hyj. icke, of the Towne of Hrugos In Flanders, upon anil concerning the Dtapo»ietom, ISs* tato and Co'ndlclcn of certalr.c Prynces, Oontreys nnd Regions, for tho present Yere. gathered onto of his ProigniosHlcacloin for the same Yere. Translated oute ot Duch Into Englyshe. by William Harrys. Imprinted at London by John Daye* dwellyne over Aldersgate. and Wyllyam Seres, dwellyne In, Peter Colledge. These Rokes are to he sold at the news Shop by the Lytic, Oonduy, &o, In flheapside. While there Is much of interest In these old almanacs and calendars, the modern calendar offers certain curiosities which are little known. For Instance, no cen tury can commence on a Wednesday, Friday or Saturday. The first day of January and the first of October In any year are on the same day, except it be leap year, in a latter year the Ist of Janunry, the Ist of April and the Ist of July fall on the samo day of the week, and In other years the Ist of April and the lßt of July still begin on the same day. The Ist of September and the Ist of December In any year fall on the same day of the week. The Ist of February, of March and of November of any year fall on the same day of the week, unless It is a leap year, when the first days of Janunry, April nnd July fall on the same day. The Ist of May, Ist of June and the Ist of August in any year never fall en tho same week day, nor docs any of the three fall on the same week day on which any other month In the same year be gins, except in a leap year, when the Ist of February and the Ist of August fall on the same week day. Tho ordinary year finishes always on the same day of the week when It commenced. With regard to leap years. 1900 will not be such a halcyon period, because, while it is divisible by four—the ordinary test of a leap year—lt Is not divisible by 400 without a remainder. The reason for this is found in the establishment of tho Gregorian mode of reckoning In 1552. New Year's day will fall upon Sunday once more In this century, and that will be in 1890. In the twentieth century It will occur fourteen times only, the in tervals of years being regular—6—s—6— 11, g—ri—6—ll—save the Intervals which include tho hundredth year that Is not a century, when there Is a break, after which the regularity of interval is re sumed. The calendar, like history, re peats itself, for the same calendar re curs every twenty-eighth your. The first almanacs were of Arabian origin and served as models In other countries for many hundreds of years. The oldest copy of such a work Ib pre served in the Hrltish museum, and dates back to the time of Rameses the Great of Egypt, who lived 1200 years before Christ. The entries relate to religious ceremonies, to the fates of children born on given days and to the regulation of business enterprises In accordance with planetary Influences. This almanac was found in an old tomb and is supposed to have been burled with its Egyptian owner when he was converted Into a mummy for future explorers to dig up and ship to some museum In the cause of science, or to be used as a fertilizing product in the cause of agriculture. ESCAPE THROUGH A TRAP DOOR Chief Ripley's Secret Passage to and From His Private Office Tho small boy who reads yellow-back novels would have hits heart made glad were he permitted the privilege of visit ing the office of Chief of Police Klpley, In the city hall. Almost every appur tenance known to the detective stories of one's youth may be seen there, If one Is fortunate enough to gain admittance when the ever-vigilant "Rig Steve" Row an Is not watching to prevent it. The most startling contrivance In the chief's private chamber, however, Is a trap-door. It is one of the old-fashioned dungeon-deep, or stags door, kind, and ! it is used many times daily by the sleuth at the head of Chicago's police depart ment. It is not utilized, however, for the purpose of putting out of the way objectionable callers or villains who seek to disturb the peace and tranquillity of the chief of police. Its purpose is to af ford the chief an easy and always ac cessible avenue of escape from persist ent job hunters, annoying politicians or too inquisitive newspaper reporters. The door is in the middle of the floor [of Chief Kipley's private office. It is I about four feet long by three feet wide, and Is covered by a pretty Persian rug. when the door is is covered by the rug the floor has the appearance of an ordinary office floor; but when the chief calls his attendant and orders him to remove the rug, the real thing in melodrama is wit nessed. Before doing this, however, the chief or one of his subordinates politely requests all callers to "step outside a minute, please," or sends out word to callers that he "will be out In a minute or two." W r hen tho trap-door is raised, the burly form of the chief descends to the subterranean depths that appear to be opened to the view. Rut the trap door lets tho chief onto a small winding iron stairway, which leads into the de tective room at central station, and af fords a rapid and safe egress to the out side world without the danger of en counter with undesirable persons. There are also two or three secret pas sages leading into the chief's office from the main floor of tho city hall, und he has now every possible means at his disposal to be mysterious and at the same time avoid those whom he does not care to see. The trap-door is an idea of Robert E. Burke, and was built and first used by him when he was city sealer and dis penser of patronage under the first May or Carter H. Harrison. When the recent changes were made in the location of of llces in the city hall Chief Kipley select ed the room with the trap-door as his pri vate office, and says It affords him the only possible means of securing rest from the annoyances of job-hunting poli ticians and their proteges. NO FORGIVENESS They loved each other well, they swore. And so to wed they wildly hoped; Wherefore It wasn't long before They laughed at locksmithsand eloped. Her pa forgave, as papas do; Her mamma, too, forgave and blessed; His ma and pa forgave them, too, And brothers, sisters—all the rest. And only two could not forgive; They've not forgiven to this day, And won't as long as e'er they live— They can't forulvo themselves, they say. —London Flgarc.