Amanda’s Archival Discovery

Happy New Years Forest County Residents!

I found a great article on the Wisconsin State Historical Society website about New Years Eve traditions in early Wisconsin. Check it out and see if this is something you would like to incorporate into your family’s celebration.

Wisconsin has celebrated New Year’s ever since Europeans and Yankees first settled here. French-Canadian residents brought a custom called “La Guignolée,” a sort of New Year’s trick-or-treat in which old men collected clothing and food for the poor. According to Elizabeth Therese Baird (1810-1890), daughter of a fur trader and a French-Ottawa mother who came to Green Bay as a teenage bride in 1824: “As soon as la fête de Nöel or Christmas-tide had passed, all the young people were set at work to prepare for New Year’s. … On the eve of that day, great preparations were made by a certain class of elderly men, usually fishermen, who went from house to house in grotesque dress singing and dancing. Following this they would receive gifts. Their song was often quite terrifying to little girls as the gift asked for in the song was la fille aînée — the eldest daughter. …”

“As they were always expected, everyone was prepared to receive them. This ended the last day of the year. After evening prayer in the family, the children would retire early. At the dawn of the new year, each child would go to the bedside of its parents to receive their benediction — a most beautiful custom; my sympathies always went out to children who had no parents near.” (Wisconsin Historical Collections)

"Miss 1935", one year old Lois Ann Endres, daughter of Emil and Berniece Endres from Milwaukee
“Miss 1935”, one year old Lois Ann Endres, daughter of Emil and Berniece Endres from Milwaukee

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