First Footing

Give me a man after midnight…

The Scots love a Hogmanay party. While, sadly, this year’s celebrations will be a somewhat pared down version across the nation, there are some traditions that won’t be dropped.

At Dalhousie Castle, and in many homes across Scotland, we’ll be honouring the tradition of First Footing as the new year begins. Stemming back to the time of the invading Vikings in the 8th and 9th century, it is believed that the first person to enter a house, the “first foot”, can bring luck – or misfortune – for the year ahead.

In Scottish tradition good luck comes in the form of a tall, dark-haired man being the first footer. On the other hand, women, light-haired men and redheads were seen as harbingers of ill fate.

The first footer would traditionally arrive bearing gifts to bring good fortune and health to the home. Gifts generally took the form of a coin, shortbread or something edible, a lump of coal or wood for the fire and a drink of whisky to represent prosperity, food, warmth and good cheer.

After the year we’ve just had we’re not leaving anything to chance. We’ve prepared the gifts and we’ll be waiting for the first knock on the door after the midnight bells!