International

FIRST FOOT DAY (HOGAMANAY) - January 1

First Foot Day (Hogamanay) January 1st

FIRST FOOT DAY (HOGAMANAY)

On January 1st, people throughout Scotland and Northern England celebrate First Foot Day. During this traditional New Year’s event, it’s believed that the person who first sets foot in someone’s home can bring good luck to the household. The day is also referred to as Hogmanay.

This day is all about ensuring a home has good luck for the entire year to come. But it’s not just anyone that can bring good luck into the home. For the best chance of good luck, the first person to step inside should be a tall dark-haired stranger. Men with lighter hair are considered unlucky. This is because blond strangers are likened to Viking invaders. The first person to enter the house should also have shortbread, silver coins, salt, and a bit of whisky. They might also bring black bun, which is a rich fruit cake. Besides good luck, these items represent financial prosperity, warmth, and good cheer.

After the first guest has arrived, many others follow. Food and drink are provided for all the guests. Many people celebrate a first-footing well into the next day. It’s also not uncommon for people to visit houses through the middle of January.

Some first foot customs also revolved around the idea of marriage. Young maidens would often invite their sweethearts to be their first foot as a hint at marriage.

HOW TO OBSERVE #FirstFootDay

On January 1st, most people around the world have New Year’s parties. However, there are ways you can incorporate this day into your celebration. To participate:
Pay attention to the first person that sets foot in your home after the stroke of midnight.

  • Sing Auld Lang Syne at your celebration.
  • Learn more about the history of this day.
  • Serve shortbread at your party.

Spread awareness for this day on social media with #FirstFootDay.

FIRST FOOT DAY HISTORY

It’s believed that the tradition of Hogmanay dates back to the early 8th and 9th centuries. The invading Vikings are thought to have brought this celebration to Scotland. During a first foot or Hogmanay party, it’s also tradition to sing “Auld Lang Syne” by Robert Burns. Both friends and strangers are to be welcomed inside with warm hospitality. In recent years, Hogmanay parties have turned into exciting New Year’s parties. Many cities throughout Scotland and Northern England celebrate Hogmanay with music, street performances, torchlight processions, and fireworks.