Custom contrived: Mapleton bridge jump

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Belated happy new year…this year I’ve decided to add another category, customs contrived…for all those bizarre newer customs like this one!

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New Years Eve is always a strange one. I think its best summed up by this quote by Briscoe (1874) neatly sums up New Year’s Eve even today:

“The close of the year brings along with it a mingled feeling of gladness and melancholy; of gladness in the anticipation of brighter days to come with the advent of the new year, and of melancholy in reflections on the fleeting nature of time, and the gradual approach to the inevitable goal in the race of life. That so interesting an occasion should be distinguished by some observance or ceremony appears but natural, and we accordingly find various customs prevail, some sportive, others serious, and others in which both the mirthful and pensive moods are intermingled. The most general of these is that of sitting up until midnight on New Year’s Eve..”

New Year’s Day 2013 was a delightful day and rather than stare at each other glumly over another gigantic repast which took three hours to prepare and less than half an hour to consume, we decided to go out.

There are very few traditional customs or ceremonies enacted on the day, especially within easy distance of me, but over the last decades a growing number of bizarre sports and activities have grown up to welcome in the New Year..Mappleton Bridge Jumping is one such.

The river Dove is said to the coldest in England and so naturally when told that the first think you want to do is jump in at one of the coldest times of the year…not you? Well there were plenty of volunteers. The day consists of two parts, the first is a mainly charity event where pairs compete a raft race, jump from the bridge and then run to the finishing line. The second part appears more informal, a turn up and jump.

A new year’s water baptism

In a way this is a traditional observation reborn. Water is always seen as significant in the new year (see the Cream of the Well post last January) and so in way this is a new custom from the view of the purifying nature of water on the new year….or is it a bit of fun? You decide.

NOTE: This custom has now moved to Easter!!

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