What New Englanders Say About Christmas

To celebrate Christmas, we bring you some New England sayings and superstitions about the holiday from What They Say in New England, by Clifton Johnson in 1896.

Christmas card courtesy Boston Public Library.

Christmas card courtesy Boston Public Library.

Here goes:

There is a saying that on the night before Christmas when the clock strikes twelve the cows kneel in their stalls. Some young girls in Hadley, years ago, sat up to discover whether this was true or not. At midnight they went out to the barn, and sure enough when the hour struck the cows knelt. At any rate, that was what the girls said.

A still older story told in the town with the same theme is that at midnight when the Christmas Day begins, all the cattle in the yards and fields might be seen kneeling with their heads turned to the east in adoration. Two girls of the olden time, who were eager to see for themselves whether this was true or not, sat up on Christmas Eve until the spellbound hour, and then visited the farm cattleyard. But the cattle made no sign that they were at all affected.

Half the pork and half the hay
On Christmas Day.

It is related that there was a time when the men would occupy a part of their leisure on Christmas Day in making a tour of the neighbors to see how their hay was holding out.

A green Christmas makes a full churchyard. The foundation for this saying is the fact that open winters with their constant freezings and thawings are very unhealthy.

weather history

The twelve days of Christmas indicate the weather for the following year. Each day in order shows the weather for one month.

If the sun shines through the limbs of the apple-trees on Christmas Day, there will be a good crop of fruit next year.



  1. Richard Pirozzi

    Richard Pirozzi

    December 25, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Merry Christmas

  2. New England Historical Society

    New England Historical Society

    December 25, 2013 at 11:25 am

    ^Merry Christmas to you!

  3. Linda Hanley

    Linda Hanley

    December 25, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Link won’t open, but it does turn into an AD

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