Thursday, January 1, 2009

The First Foot

An old Scottish tradition is that of the "first foot" for the New Year. In theory, the first visitor to cross the threshold of the home sets the tone for the coming year. A good year will be foretold by a tall, handsome man bearing gifts; and brunettes are supposed to be better luck than blonds, because a blond visitor would resemble a Viking invader (and, seriously, invasions weren't considered the best of luck in ancient Scotland).
The tradition has evolved over the years. As this post makes its scheduled appearance (12:01 AM 1/1/9), in Scottish homes all over the world there will be guests first-footing their hosts with a basket containing the following:
  • Coal -- so that your heart and hearth may always contain warmth.
  • Oats -- so that you may remain humble and your stomach remain full.
  • Coins -- so that you may prosper and share your good fortune with others.
  • Salt -- so that your lives and your food may have flavor. And
  • Whiskey -- because it's Scottish and you can't get Thistles this time of year.

In my home we will have gone to bed and be sound asleep by midnight, and although we do not believe in the superstitions associated with Hogmanay or Saturnalia, I do wonder who will be our first foot in the new year. What will tomorrow bring? And what will this new year bring to each of us?

1 comment:

  1. My grandmother believed this. She was very superstitious. She believed that if a man was the first to enter your home after the new year, you'd have good luck all year long. But if a woman, especially a red-headed woman entered first, that would be bad luck. She had a fit one New Year's eve night when I went outside to see the neighbors' fireworks.


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