A Scottish (and apparently also Vietnamese)1 tradition wherein the first person to cross the threshold of your home after the bells strike midnight on New Year's Eve brings the luck (good or bad) for the coming year.

To ensure good luck, the 'first footer' must be a tall, dark-haired, and good-looking male. Blond(e) or redheaded first footers mean bad luck, and female 'first footer's are sure tokens of disaster ahead. Additionally, the 'first footer' must not be a doctor, a lawyer, or a clergyman.

The ideal 'first footer' will bring a small lump of coal for the fire. Should you not have a fire, other suitable gifts include silver, bread, salt, or even a sprig of evergreen.

The 'first footer' should make his way through the entire house, kissing all the women, and then leave through a different door than the one he entered. After midnight has struck, no one should leave the house before the 'first footer' arrives! The first traffic across the threshold must be inbound, rather than headed out.

An excellent excuse for someone meeting the requirements of a good-luck charm to visit all of their friends, and cadge some New Year's snacks, plus perhaps a kiss or two!

If you don't have access to a 'first footer' who meets these requirements, a male black cat is equally good luck, at least in the United Kingdom.


1. Apatrix says: This is probably much more widespread. I can confirm that a similar superstition exists in Greece too. And you *must* step inside right foot first.


Sources:

  • My grandmother sending me out into the cold and snow just before midnight every year;
  • http://www.snopes.com/holidays/newyears/newyears.htm;
  • www.vnstyle.vdc.com.vn/lunar_newyear/ The_first_footer.html.

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