NO ONE celebrates the arrival of the New Year quite like the Irish.
Home to some of the most unique superstitions in the world and a whole host of traditions dating back centuries, the arrival of a new year has always been a time of hope and excitement on the Emerald Isle.
Here are seven essential Irish New Year traditions to help you see in the start of another 12 months in true Celtic style.
7. An early spring clean
Any Irish household worth its salt knows this one. A centuries-old custom, the idea was to start the New Year with a clean slate, which meant having a spotlessly clean house. The best way to beat the post-Christmas gloom too.
6. Banging bread for bad luck
Another Irish superstition that’s passed the test of time involves banging on the doors and walls of the family home with Christmas bread. It might sound crazy, and probably is, but this one is all about chasing bad luck out of the house and inviting good spirits in before the start of the new year.
5. First through the door
The identity of the first person to step through the door of the family home on January 1st is of huge importance in Ireland. In fact, many see it as having a hugely significant bearing on the entire year ahead. Should a dark, handsome, stranger come to the door then the year ahead is bright and full of hope but should a young, red-headed woman coming knocking...well, it's not good.
4. Westerly winds
A simple yet enduring superstition involves which direction the wind might be blowing from. Should it come flying in from the west, then all of Ireland will be looking forward to a great year ahead. But say it comes from the east then something far worse could be on the cards - good luck for all of the UK, rather than Ireland.
3. Mistletoe, holly, and ivy
One for the singletons among us: come January 1st, those looking to meet their future husband or wife was advised to place springs of holly, ivy or mistletoe under their pillow. The idea was that they would dream of their future partner. The jury is out on whether this one actually works.
2. In through the front, out through the back
At the stroke of midnight on December 31st, those seeking good luck in Ireland were recommended to enter their house through the front door and leave through the back.
1. Honouring the dead
The most famous of all the New Year’s traditions. On New Year’s night, families across Ireland set a place at the dinner table for those lost the year before and the door off the latch. It’s about remembering those lost the year before.