Tuesday, January 1, 2013
At this time of year it is appropriate to remember the First-Footer. What is that? It is the first human foot that crosses the threshold after midnight on the night between December 31 and January 1. Traditionally the First-Footer is expected to bring into the household a silver coin; a piece of wood or coal; some bread item, perhaps an unsweetened dinner roll, usually baked fairly hard. Gavin remembers being on a BOAC flight with his (two older) children at this season. The airline served up rolls of a type that the kids could have used as cricket balls.
In addition, especially in Scotland, a bottle of whisky is brought.
All the First-Footer items are placed over the lintel of the front door of the dwelling, or over the door which is used most often. The items signify that the home will never lack money, fuel for heat, and food.
Some folklorists note that especially good luck came when a First-Footer was invited to stay at a dwelling where there were unmarried daughters. Presumably this was an old way of widening the gene pool.
You can go first-footing in your neighborhood if you like, or just to the dwelling of your friendly local Witches. Let's not lose these ancient rituals. They mean something even now.