New Year's Eve isn't just a night for partying - it's a night for predicting what the new year will hold. In fact, according to Fontaine's Golden Wheel Dream Book and Fortune Teller book (1862), partying on New Year's Eve is a very ill-omened idea! (I suspect the author was simply the more quiet, contemplative type.) Here's more classic New Year's fortune telling advice from Fontaine's:
"The evening which of all others is the most adapted for witchery, is New Year's eve. It is a very ill practice to spend this evening at a ball, and it is an acknowledged fact that ill luck, more or less, follows a person throughout the year, who has danced the old year out and the new year in.
"You should spend New Year’s eve with a small circle of near and dear friends, around a punch-bowl, while you seek to inquire what the future has in store for you. In the first place this may be done with melted lead or wax. Some of you, perhaps, are acquainted with this method of inquiring of the future, yet there may be many among your number who are still ignorant of it. Now, as it is of the highest interest in the world that these should know the process, I will here give, for their benefit, a short explanation of it, which the others may skip over.
"THE LEAD AND WAX SPELL.
"Take a good-sized piece of lead or wax, (the former is better,) place it in a melting-ladle, and dissolve it over the coals, or over a spirit-lamp, into which you have poured a little alcohol. You must then take a vessel full of water, (a bowl is best, that is not too deep nor too shallow,) and pour into it the lead or wax, and from the various figures which it forms in the water you endeavor to tell your fortune.
"THE SAUCER CHARM.
"The following is another method : you take four saucers ; in one you put a ring, in another a sprig of myrtle, in the third a piece of money, and in the fourth nothing. The individuals composing the company must now walk around the table, blindfold, one after the other, and choose one of the saucers, which, in the mean time, have been changed as to place. Those among the company who choose the ring, will be betrothed in the course of the year; myrtle signifies wedlock, the piece of money wealth, the empty saucer no change of circumstances.
"HOW TO TELL THE FIRST LETTER OF TOUR FUTURE WIFE OR HUSBAND'S NAME.
"If you wish to know the letter with which your future wife or husband's name commences, write all the letters of the alphabet, separately, upon small pieces of paper, put these pieces in a box, and draw one out blindfold. All this may be done before twelve o'clock. Exactly at the stroke of midnight, however, you can summon up your future husband or wife; and behold his or her image up the chimney.
"THE CANDLE SPELL.
"The following is another method : Take two candles, go a little before twelve o'clock into an adjoining chamber—no one on any account must follow you—place yourself before the mirror, and exactly as it strikes twelve, call out your own name in full, three times. When the last sound has died away, you will see in the glass your future husband looking over your shoulder.
"The company may not remain together after twelve o'clock. "When the old year is out and the new year in, you must embrace, and kiss each other, and then go home. You must not yet go to bed, however, but must first devote an hour to solitude, to reflect upon all which the past year has brought with it, and to commit to writing the chief occurrences, as well as the state of your minds. It would be well to keep a book for this purpose, in which you should read and write only on a new-year's eve, and at other times keep carefully stored away. I have always done this, and I can assure you, that it is with a feeling of sad, sweet interest, that I now read, each New Year's eve, of the eighty-nine years of my life.
"THE NUTSHELL WITCHERY.
"Among- the witcheries which you may perform on a new-year's eve, there is one to which I have not alluded. Each person of the company, to wit, takes a nutshell, and, after lighting a wax taper, places it in the shell. A basin of water is then brought. You now place the nutshells, with the burning tapers in them, in the basin. Some will incline toward each other as they float along, others will repel each other, until, at last, all are extinguished or sunk. What conclusions in reference to the future, are to, be drawn from the various movements of these tiny magic skiffs, your own quick wits will tell you.
"THE BRIDGE OMEN.
"After you have gone home, and have devoted an hour to the solitary task which I counseled you (see Candle Spell), take a glass of water, cut a small chip of wood, and lay it crosswise upon the glass, so that it stretches like a bridge, from one end to the opposite one. Then place this glass under your bed. The consequence will be that you will dream during the night that you are walking over a bridge, and that you fall into the water. A gentleman, however, appears and rescues you. This same gentleman, whom you will see very distinctly, be careful to remember, for he is your future husband. A gentleman can make the same experiment, and he will dream the same thing, with the difference only, that it is a lady who rescues him, and she is to be his future wife.
"THE HAIR SPELL.
"If you wish any person to think of you, pluck a hair from your head, and blow it out into the air toward that quarter of the heavens in which the person lives, while, at the same time, you call out the name of this person three times, at the top of your voice. During this you must be entirely alone, and must have thought intently upon the person for, at least, a quarter of an hour beforehand. At the same instant he will experience a strange unearthly shudder or thrill, and his thoughts will turn irresistibly toward you.
"SIGN WHEN YOU WET YOUR APRON.
"When you are washing, if you are apt to wet your apron a great deal, it is a sign that your future husband will be a tippler. Take good heed therefore!
"THE NAIL TOKEN.
"If a person has nails that are all bitten to pieces, and gnawed close to the quick, it signifies an evil, malicious character, and you have every reason in the world to be on your guard in your intercourse with such a person."
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