This morning I saw three small children heading for door carrying a biscuit tin. When I opened the door they grinned and sang lustily:
Dydd calan yw hi heddiw,
Rwy’n dyfod ar eich traws
I ofyn am y geiniog,
Neu grwst, a bara a chaws.
O dewch i’r drws yn siriol
Heb nesid dim o’ch gwedd;
Cyn daw dydd calan eto
Bydd llawer yn y bedd.
Then bellowed “Blwyddyn newydd dda!!” It’s nice to know the old tradition where children sing and collect shiny new pennies from their neighbours still persists. Luckily for them, the only shiny coins I had were £2 coins, but I don’t think they’d have have thanked me for bread and cheese!
It’s a charming custom, and I must admit I was surprised – we’re normally in Dorset on New Year’s day – but I feel the second part of the rhyme has a potentially grim resonance as I get older.
“Today is the start of the new year, and I have come to you to ask for [my] money, or bread, or pastry, and bread and cheese. O come to [your] door smiling without waking anyone up; Before the next arrival of the new year many will be dead.”