First-foot is a tradition in Great Britain where the first person who enters a person’s house (the “first-foot”) in the New Year will bring good or bad luck.
Rosetta Ceesay wrote, “New year in Northern Ireland it’s still seen as bad luck if your first visitor in the new year is a female, so people ensure that the ‘first footer’ is male and the custom is that he should bring a piece of coal to offer the household. This is to wish them warmth in their home in the coming year.”
Many thanks to Rosetta for sharing this tradition with us!
Happy New Year!
September 20th, 2016 at 9:29 am
Oh I had forgotten about the first footer. As a child we kept new year at my grandparent’s house and an uncle would always go out of the back door after auld land syne. He would nip to the front door and ring the bell and he carried in a lump of coal. Had to have dark hair too, so my uncle Ray could never do it lol
January 3rd, 2018 at 1:11 pm
I remember the first foot had to be dark and male. He brought coal for warmth, salt for savour and sugar for sweetness. However a red haired male or female or someone with a caste in their eye was considered bad luck.
January 29th, 2019 at 5:01 pm
This is also an old tradition in Scotland. Here we bring coal and black bun as symbols of warmth and plenty for the year to come.
The belief that it is bad luck to have a first footer who is fair goes back to the Viking raiders who were never welcome.
December 3rd, 2019 at 11:22 am
In the north of England, it is also a dark haired man as the First Footer, with a small piece of coal, a twig or piece of wood, & a small coin, wrapped in paper to ensure warm fires and enough money for the coming year. He is then given a glass of wine or whisky & a mince pie or other food token to welcome him and the good luck he brings. Leaving the front door open, he opens the back door, to let the old year out and the New Year in.
November 20th, 2022 at 5:50 pm
My mother who was from Northumberland kept many Scottish traditions. She would make my poor father go outside before midnight and allow him back in after midnight armed with coal, bread and whisky. She hated any woman first footing her which is why he got sent out just in case! Mischief night was an early version of Halloween or All Saints night.