It’s that time of year again when we say goodbye to the old year and welcome in the new with a party and what better place to do so than in Tudor Square, Tenby. Well OK, Sydney, Australia may be slightly better as it will be somewhat warmer than Tenby. However if you wrap up warm Tenby’s atmosphere is the best. From about 11.30pm onwards the crowds start to gather and by midnight it’s shoulder to shoulder in the square. At the stroke of midnight the impressive fireworks display provided by Tenby House commences. This lasts for about ten to fifteen minutes and is a fantastic sight. The square is packed with people, many of whom have dressed up in fancy dress. All age groups are represented and in case you were wondering it all passes off peacefully. Revelers rub shoulders with lovers with family groups and friends. It’s simply the place to be on New Year’s Eve.
The tradition of gathering in large crowds to celebrate New Year’s Eve is not a new phenomenon. Tales and Traditions of Tenby published by Richard Mason in 1858 records that ‘there was a general desire to see the old year out and the New Year in, which was done according to the several tastes of different parties. Some danced the old year out, some sung it out, some drank it out, for the love of Auld Lang Syne, some prayed it out, but very many walked it out, which was done to the intense annoyance of invalids and of good musicians. For the promenaders, judging that music should herald in the New Year, sung away in total defiance of all rules of melody and harmony such verses as
‘Get up on New Years’ morning, The cocks are all a –crowing: And if you think you’re awake to soon, Why get up and look at the stars and moon: But get up on New Year’s morning’.
To rise early on New Year’s Morning was generally considered ‘lucky’ on the principal that as the year was begun so it would continue. Old traditions such as ‘New Year’s Water’ were celebrated locally but the next big party night was Twelfth Night. Long kept as a time of wassail and revelry Twelfth Night was celebrated by proceeding from house to house with a ‘wassail bowl’ and persons partaking of the contents were expected to pay. Helping to keep old traditions alive Tenby Museum & Art Gallery have arranged a Jazz concert on Twelfth night (Saturday 5th January) so come along and continue the party festivities. Details can be found on the museum’s website or direct from the museum which reopens on Wednesday 2nd January (01834 842809).