STORIES BEHIND SUPERSTITIONS
First footing: a New Year tradition that has all eyes on the threshold – and the milkman’s hair colour… It’s a tradition that’s dying out, yet all over the UK – especially in Scotland and Northern England – people watch their front doors, awaiting the first person to cross the threshold on New Year’s Day morning and hoping the ‘first footer’ will be male and dark haired to bring luck for the year ahead. The superstition’s thought to date back to the Viking times, when someone fair at your door would very much be bad news. However, neither the phrase ‘first footing’, nor the custom, can be traced earlier than the turn of the 19th century. Nevertheless, the idea was then embraced with gusto. Customs vary from area to area. First footers are often expected to bring gifts, such as coal (symbolising a warm hearth), something green (symbolising life) or whisky (with obvious benefits). And surely a little bit of hospitality is always a good way to start a year?