At Skansen we have welcomed the new year since 1894. The first reading of Ring Out, Wild Bells the following year was made by Nikolaus Bergendahl, an employee at Skansen. Snow chaos prevented the celebration in 1896, but the year after we celebrated again. Artur Hazelius, Skansens founder, then appointed the 28-year-old theater student Anders de Wahl to read the poem, something he continued to do until his death in 1955.

“Ring Out, Wild Bells” is a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Published in 1850, the year he was appointed Poet Laureate. It forms part of In Memoriam, Tennyson’s elegy to Arthur Henry Hallam, his sister’s fiancé who died at the age of twenty-two.

According to a story widely held in Waltham Abbey, the ‘wild bells’ in question were the bells of the Abbey Church, and according to local story, Tennyson was staying at High Beach in the vicinity and heard the bells being rung. In some versions of the story it was a particularly stormy night and the bells were being swung by the wind rather than deliberately.