An Old Rhyme for the New Year and the Custom of the Quaaltagh

New Years is almost here. I found a rhyme that used to be sung on the Isle of Man. Isle of Man is an island that’s located between Great Britain and Ireland in the Irish Sea. It’s a British crown dependency, but it’s not a part of the UK or the European Union.

The rhyme is associated with a custom called the quaaltagh. The quaaltagh or qualtagh is actually the first person who steps foot into your house on the morning of the New Year. Young men would go from house to house singing the rhyme on New Year’s morning. After singing the rhyme, they’d be invited inside for food and drink. For superstitious reasons, it was important that the boy or man with the darkest complexion enter first – that he be the quaaltagh. It’s considered bad luck for a person with light hair to be the first to enter a house in the New Year.

Here’s the rhyme:

Again we assemble, a merry New Year
To wish to each one of the family here,
Whether man, woman, or girl, or boy,
That long life and happiness all may enjoy;
May they of potatoes and herrings have plenty,
With butter and cheese, and each other dainty;
And may their sleep never, by night or day,
Disturbed be by even the tooth of a flea:
Until at the Quaaltagh again we appear,
To wish you, as now, all a happy New Year.

Happy New Year to all of you! Remember on New Year’s morning to have the person with darker hair and complexion enter the house first and be the quaaltagh. It’s considered good luck that way!

-Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Friday, December 28th, 2007 at 4:15 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Customs and Traditions, English, English Nursery Rhymes, First Footing, Folk Lore, Holiday Songs, Holidays Around the World, Isle of Man, Languages, Mama Lisa, Manx Gaelic, New Years, New Years Songs, Nursery Rhymes, United Kingdom. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

One Response to “An Old Rhyme for the New Year and the Custom of the Quaaltagh”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Here’s the rhyme in the Manx (Gaelic) language that used to be spoken on the Isle of Man:

    ‘Ollick ghennal erriu as blein feer vie,
    Seihll as slaynt da’n slane lught-thie;
    Bea as gennallys as bio ry-cheilley.
    Shee as graih eddyr mraane as deiney;
    Cooid as cowryn, stock as stoyr.
    Palchey phuddase as skaddan dy-liooar;
    Arran as caashey, eeym as roayrt;
    Baase myr lugh ayns uhllin ny soalt;
    Cadley sauchey tra vees shiu ny lhie,
    As feeackle y jiargan, nagh bee dy mie.

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