STO­RIES BE­HIND SUPERSTITIONS

The Simple Things - - HOW WE LIVE -

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?

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