Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy New Year--Our Mother Goose Tradition

My grandmother, Edith LoRene Thompson Harward had a New Year's Mother Goose tradition which she passed on to her family. Grandma kept this tradition alive by having each member of the family put one shoe on the inside of her front door on New Year's Eve. On New Year's morning, participants found their shoe filled with candy, a small game, money or some other small gift given by the illusive Mother Goose.

For many years I assumed this tradition came from Grandma's Danish family not remembering she was also part Scottish.

Over the many past decades homes in south central Utah have been visited on New Year's eve by Mother Goose. The early stories of the area, many of whom came from immigrants of the British Isles particularly Scotland, were brought to the United States with them--including those of the new year customs.

Our family's Mother Goose custom shares a few similarities to the Scottish holiday of Hogmanay celebrated on December 31. The "shoe by the door" tradition was also celebrated by the Greek Orthodox religion, and a St. Nick's Day is celebrated in the Netherlands and Germany with gifts being placed in children's shoes. 

Here in the United States some people of other nationalities have taken on this custom as the children saw their neighbor's children visited by Mother Goose.

Mother Goose is described as a bearer of good cheer who leaves a small gift and edibles for the children while they slept. In older times, children received bananas and oranges which were special treats for the time as well as a simple gift. These were often hidden around the home in dressers, etc. The gifts were also put into Christmas stockings, favorite bowls or shoes. Some families even spread feathers around their doors to make it seem to the children as though she had really visited their home.

My children have continued this Mother Goose tradition, and it is still interesting to learn about it.


  1. We have continued the tradition with our children all these years, even while we have visited relatives on Dexters side, which they think is rather peculiar. I don't know if my kids will think it a big enough deal to pass it on to their children, but I hope so, I think it is part of their herritage and something yet again to look forward to.

  2. Thank you for writing about this. I have wanted to find out more about this fun tradition. We have continued this tradition in our home, because it is so fun and different. Thank you for the background I have been looking for.

  3. I had heard about and adopted the New Years Mother Goose tradition with our children when they were small. I didn't ever know the background, however, and was happy to read your blog. They are all grown now with their own families...mainly teenage kids. Reading this caused me to long for days past.
    Thank you for sharing.

  4. Thanks Cindy! You are a wealth of information!