Come on in….Be the First to Cross The Threshold
New Years Eve…. or, as my Scottish ancestors name this last day of the year “Hogmanay”.
At the end what has been a strange and difficult year for all, it would be very appropriate to embrace the Hogmanay tradition of First Footing.
Once again 2020 has conspired against even this tradition being celebrated. As UK Lockdown has been strengthened again, such activities are not permitted.
So what is First Footing ?
I don’t think anyone knows for sure when this tradition started. Some say its a mix of Gaelic and Norse traditions. Whilst associated with Scotland and those of Scottish heritage, it has been practiced in parts of Northern England and some Scandinavian Countries.
The act of First Footing itself requires that the first person to cross the threshold, after midnight has struck, on Hogmanay, can if carrying the right gift, bring good luck to the House and those within.
The gifts are defined by tradition as being….. A Coin, A Piece of Bread, A Pinch of Salt, A Lump of Coal and a Dram of Whisky. The gifts represent….. Prosperity, Food, Flavour, Warmth and Good Cheer.
But rules of this Scottish tradition don’t end there. The person bringing the Gifts must not be in the House when midnight strikes…. (now this is where we get sexist and selective)…. The First Footer, as he is known must be a Man. He must have dark hair. If someone with light Hair, Redheaded or Female should cross the threshold first, after midnight, they bring with them bad luck. Likewise a Doctor or a Minister are not welcomed as First Footers for their association with Illness, Bad News and Death.
So as 2020 moves into 2021, a year when we could all do with a visit from a First Footer and the luck they bring, CV19 conspires against us….. a great shame.
But we can all play our part in making the future better for all if we all…..
Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other
(C) David Oakes 2020