- Nov 26, 2016
- central NC
“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