Did You Hear the Footsteps at Midnight?

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#1
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“First-Footing” was critical to New Year’s Eve in the Victorian Era. “First Footing” literally means the first foot to cross your threshold after midnight. This visitor was expected to bring a gift of bread, salt, coal, whisky, food or greenery to ensure a prosperous and healthy year ahead. I bet jewelry worked too.

In addition to bringing an appropriate gift, there was one more thing to guarantee a prosperous year. The first-footer should be handsome. Traditionally, tall, dark men were preferred as the “first-foot” while blondes were generally considered bad luck.

Customs and superstitions around the “First-Foot” visitor were collected in Folklore Magazine. The “who was hot and who was not” results were summarized in a table by John Rhys and T.W.E. Higgins in the June 1892 edition. Yikes!

Here are a few more dos and don’ts for the Victorian New Year:
  • do clean your house prior to New Year’s
  • do take out all trash
  • do clear your hearth so a new fire can be made
  • do not work on New Year’s Day (no problem there)
  • do not carry lit candles outside
  • do not do laundry (no problem there either)
  • do wear a new piece of clothing on New Year’s Day or risk bad luck
  • do ring bells at midnight to chase away evil
  • do throw a cake against the door to ensure a year without hunger (that questionable fruit cake would serve the purpose)
  • do give gifts to loyal servants
  • do have money in your pocket, even small children
 

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#4
"do throw a cake against the door to ensure a year without hunger" Are you picking on the poor fruitcake again?:happy:
Some of the fruitcakes I've seen would break a door off its hinges! Would tall, dark, handsome men bringing strong beverage spirits after midnight be welcomed or frowned upon by the Victorian father of beautiful daughters?
 

luinrina

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#6
Interesting. My own foot crossed my apartment's threshold - and I'm blonde. Does that mean it's going to be an unlucky year? :eek: Or do only visitors count? Let's see if I know a dark-haired, tall and handsome man who could come visit...

No one first foot here at this house, unless you count the cat!
Is it tall, dark and handsome? :D

Customs and superstitions around the “First-Foot” visitor were collected in Folklore Magazine. The “who was hot and who was not” results were summarized in a table by John Rhys and T.W.E. Higgins in the June 1892 edition. Yikes!
You wouldn't happen to have that summary, do you? :whistling: :laugh:
 
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#7
Some of the fruitcakes I've seen would break a door off its hinges! Would tall, dark, handsome men bringing strong beverage spirits after midnight be welcomed or frowned upon by the Victorian father of beautiful daughters?
I guess this would be covered on the Victorian fathers interpretation of the Beauty of his daughter
 

Mrs. V

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#8
Interesting. My own foot crossed my apartment's threshold - and I'm blonde. Does that mean it's going to be an unlucky year? :eek: Or do only visitors count? Let's see if I know a dark-haired, tall and handsome man who could come visit...


Is it tall, dark and handsome? :D


You wouldn't happen to have that summary, do you? :whistling: :laugh:
Well, you could say my cat is a real “tiger”! My folks have the house panther, but he is not allowed out unless he is in the stroller.
 

Anna Elizabeth Henry

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#10
In Scotland they are very into the New Year's traditions as their celebration of Hogmanay is still huge today. They too are firm believers in the first-footer. I had read the first footer to bring you the worst luck is a redhead. Below is a Wiki article about the holiday which is almost identical to @Eleanor Rose's post in many ways.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hogmanay
 

Mrs. V

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#14
My only problem is the dog usually beats me to the threshold or door anytime. This is anytime, then we have to get the dogs back from the door anytime someone knocks or hits the doorbell. At least we aren't talking about ghosts, but they just go through the door usually.
My cat as well..so technically he is the first foot. Pretty much every time. As old as he is..17/18 he still insists on using the outdoor litter box.
 

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