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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Hogmanay: First-foot forward

1841 Auld Lang Syne Illustration  (PD)
On Hogmanay, the last day of the year, Scots wonder who will be the first-foot.

Also called the first-footer, this person is the first to enter a home on New Year’s Day.  For those seeking loopholes within this quest, be assured that it is NOT okay to leave the house at 11:59 p.m. on December 31st, only to return within two minutes.

Although the first-foot CAN be a member of the household, he or she must not have been hanging out there just before midnight.  Other “rules” also apply:  The first-footer should come bearing gifts of food and drink.  Popular items include shortbread, whiskey and fruit cake.  These, plus salt and coal, symbolically “set the luck for the rest of the year.”

Auld Lang Syne is traditionally sung at Hogmanay gatherings.  The title of this 1788 poem by Robert Burns can be loosely translated as “Days Gone By.”  As the clock strikes midnight, singers link arms and bid farewell to the old year.  They then listen for the pitter-patter of first footsteps.


Copyright December 31, 2016 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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