In Scottish and Northern English folklore, First Footing (the first-foot), is the first person to step into a house after midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Traditionally, the first footer is meant to follow and abide by certain customs and traditions.
Legends state that the first footer should always enter into the house from the front door, and should exit from the back door.
In order to ensure good luck for the house, the ‘first foot’ over the door should be male, dark; and of course everyone ‘first footing’ should take symbolic gifts.
These generally include small items that represent the wishes for the new year; a piece of coal for a warm hearth, bread and salt for all in the house to be fed adequately, a coin for financial prosperity, and a drink (commonly whiskey) to represent good cheer.
To first foot a household empty-handed is considered very discourteous, never mind unlucky.
The dark male is believed to be a throwback to the Viking days, when a big blonde stranger arriving on your door step with a big axe meant big trouble, and probably not a very happy New Year!
Many households to this day keep this tradition and specially select who enters first into the house.