Friday, 31 December 2010

First Footers

On some of the first few New Years Eve's I wound up at Ray and Norma's party.  There wasn't a lot went on in the lead up to midnight, but it was an excuse to get 'gussied up' and I knew several of the other guests, so it was pretty comfortable.  There were loads of snack-y foods and the odd drink, but alcohol wasn't the point.

The point seemed to be for everyone to gather in a circle at midnight to sing Auld Lang Syne and then to admit a First Footer.  This was something I'd not heard of before and I thought I ought to mention it to you in case you've not heard it either.  Ray would seek the tallest dark haired male amongst the company and send him out before midnight, only to answer the door when he knocked and to invite him back in soon after!  The idea was that if a tall, dark man was the first person to step across your threshold in the New Year and this person carried with him a lump of coal, a loaf of bread or a bottle of whiskey - this is a Scottish tradition, remember - then one could reasonably expect to have good fortune in the coming year.  

Geordies often seem to pick up Scottish ideas, but according to Wikipedia, other parts of England have picked up their own versions of this tradition and another website talks about this tradition in the 19th century in Kansas and Minnesota.  Bill said as a youth he and his friends would visit all the houses in the street, serving as first footers and being invited in for a drink.  It was good for a laugh and a neighbourly thing to do. 

I expect we'll be in the street singing at midnight as we were last year and, if Elsie feels up to it, visiting at George and Elsie's afterwards.  All the neighbours I know, mind, are bald and/or grey so they'll need to find someone further afield for their good luck.  Not that I pay much attention to First Footing.  However, I have my black-eyed peas soaking and they'll be in the crock pot with some onion and ham, ready to eat on New Year's Day for our 2011 luck!


Tabitha said...

My mum could never sit still on Hogmanay until we had sorted out who our dark First Foot would be. Scotland comes alive after mid night tonight!

James said...

Thank you Shelly for all the interesting posts of 2010 and please keep them coming in 2011. Happy New Year.