First foot

A New Year tradition from Scotland says the first person to enter your house in the new year dictates your fortunes for that year.

Eli Pousson [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
This is the last holiday tradition I’ll write about for a while. If you’re like me, you’re probably a bit holidayed-out by now.

The tradition of the first-foot probably comes from pre-Christian celebrations like Samhain, the Celtic new year, shifted a couple of months later. You could just wait for someone to turn up and see what fortune that brings, but it’s much safer to rig it. Well, by “rig it” I mean politely ask someone to be your first-foot, to bring some gifts and some good fortune for the household. It’s practiced in Scotland, northern England, and a few other places in Europe.

These are the traditional gifts: a coin (for prosperity), bread (for food), salt (for flavour), coal (for heat), a sprig of an evergreen plant (for long life), and some whisky (to keep you happy). That’s the nice part of the tradition.

The not-so-nice part: some first-footers are luckier than others. Tall, dark and handsome dude? Lucky. Short blonde dude? Unlucky. Woman? Very unlucky. Cute, tradition, real cute. (It’s apparently also practiced in parts of Sweden, where a blonde is good luck and someone with darker skin is unlucky. Charming.)

One Reply to “First foot”

  1. “Tall, dark and handsome dude? Lucky. Short blonde dude? Unlucky. Woman? Very unlucky.” So the cast of A New Hope? Wait, that would explain Ben Kenobi’s very bad day.

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