Saturday morning quotes 4.34: A New Year’s Gift
Well, if I be served such another trick,
I’ll have my brains ta’en out and buttered, and give
them to a dog for a new-year’s gift…
– Falstaff, Merry Wives of Windsor, III:v
We would like to propose a hearty toast to celebrate the backside of Anno Domini 2014, a year in which we seem to have been subjected to every trick in the book, and then some. One doesn’t like to complain, so instead we’ll write a bit about the tradition of the New Year’s Gift.
Our tradition of celebrating the new year as a logical change of calendar date is rather a newish trend. Formerly, the new year followed the church calendar and was celebrated on the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25th or Lady Day). In Elizabethan times, the new year was an opportunity for the lesser sort of individual to offer gifts to the upper crust, in hopes of a kinder and more lenient overlord. It was also an opportunity for courtiers to outdo one another in presenting lavish gifts to Bess Herself. Instead of celebrating the new year as we do today, the calendar date of January 1st was just another of the Twelve Days of Christmas.
For our part, we are sick and tired of the old year and, to celebrate the hope of better times ahead, we offer our lute-playing friends two versions of a New Year’s Gift by Anthony Holborne.