Hogmanay – Edinburgh. Photo from The Edinburgh Reporter on-line.

I don’t really have a story for today, more of a tradition to bring luck for the New Year.

Hogmanay is the Scottish New Year’s Eve celebration. The origins of Hogmanay are unclear, but may be derived from Norse and Gaelic observances. Customs vary throughout Scotland, and usually include gift-giving and visiting the homes of friends and neighbours.

The “First Footing” is a tradition celebrated on Hogmanay, a Scottish New Year’s celebration. It is supposed to bring luck and prosperity to the household for the new year. Traditionally, the “luckiest” person to enter a house in the new year is a tall, dark-haired man. Definitely do not allow it to be someone with red hair. The First Foot should bring small gifts with him that represent the wishes for the new year, a piece of coal for a warm hearth, bread and salt for all in the house to be fed adequately, and a coin for financial prosperity, and a drink (commonly whiskey) to represent good cheer.

The First Foot may have a group of people with him as long as he is the first across the threshold. After the First Foot hands the gifts to the keeper of the household and accept a drink (also typically whiskey – this is Scotland) from them to toast with them. All guests may have their glasses filled beforehand to join in the toast (traditionally “Slaínte!”). It is considered unlucky to either not offer the First Foot a drink or for them to decline it. If your First Foot does not drink alcohol, offer a different beverage instead. This is symbolic of accepting blessings and “inviting good luck to stay”.

I think I may have to try to convince someone to be our first foot this year.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.


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