Who would have thought that the first person who walks through the door of a household on New Year’s Day could set the tone for the entire year?! Well, the Scottish and Northern English people certainly have!
The celebration of this folklore is a fun and ancient way to channel those New Year vibes into something unique, simple and delightful – National First Foot Day!
History of National First Foot Day
Often associated with “Hogmanay” which is enjoyed in Scotland, the tradition of celebrating National First Foot Day can be traced back more than 1000 years ago. It is believed that invading Vikings brought the custom of First Foot to Scotland and Cumbria, in Northern England. National First Foot Day is also celebrated by those on the Isle of Man.
Becoming a part of folklore over time, the idea is that the first person who steps foot into a house on New Year’s Day is seen as someone who brings good luck to the house for the entire year going forward. Many people believe that this tradition took hold because many Scots needed to work over the traditional Christmas holiday, so they pushed their celebration into the New Year, with National First Foot Day being part of that.
How to Celebrate National First Foot Day
Get connected with this traditional day that goes back hundreds of years and consider celebrating National First Foot Day with some of these ideas:
Engage with National First Foot Day Traditions
As the customs have developed regionally over time, some differences can be found in the way that National First Food Day is celebrated. Generally, however, the idea is that a tall male should be the first one to step over the threshold. In most cases, it’s considered better if the male is dark-haired; however, in certain places, he should be fair-haired. The folklore goes that it is best if the person who crosses the threshold first is not a woman.
Of course, the first-foot has to be someone who is not already in the house when the clock strikes twelve to bring in the New Year. This usually means that, if there happens to be a party at the house on New Year’s Eve, people should leave the house and go outside before the midnight bells ring. That way, the first-foot can enter back into the house after the clock strikes, bringing good luck to the house for the year to come!
Sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’
When Robert Burns published his version of the song Auld Lang Syne in 1788, he used a pre-existing tune and added his own words. Since Robert Burns was a famous Scotsman who was also a poet, it has now become tradition to sing this song at a New Year’s Eve celebration and into National First Foot Day, not only in Scotland but in many places all over the world.
The lyrics have these famous lines in them: