A Message from Ruth at Antiques And Teacups

Welcome to the blog of Antiques And Teacups! Let's share a cup of tea and talk about the things we love...like teacups, antiques, collectibles, visiting England, antiquing and learning about victoriana and quirky gadgets. Fun!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year, First Footer Tradition

And a Happy New Year to you! My husband and I have a tradition of taking time on New Year's Eve to pray for God's blessing for the coming year and thank Him for His grace through the ending year. This has been a difficult year for many, and we are praying for His grace and mercy, as well as health, happiness and joy for all of you, my dear friends, as we move into 2016. It just seems the fitting way for us to end one year and begin another.

New Year's Eve...the last one...in London, with the London Eye....and from Seattle...

I was asked a lot last year about the United Kingdom New Year tradition of the First Footer, and so wanted to repeat that.  

In England and other areas of the UK, especially in Scotland where Hogmanay is celebrated from Dec. 31st until Jan. 1st (known as Ne'erday) as the New Year's tradition, one of the old traditions is called First Footing. 

The First Footer refers to the first person who crosses the threshhold after midnight and "seals yer fate" for the coming year. The First Footer should be a tall, dark and handsome man with a "dainty foot" and come with certain things:

Until the First Footer came in the front door after midnight, no one should enter or leave. The First Footer would knock, be asked to enter and do so with gifts in his pockets which have regional variations. The usual in my family's tradition was bread or sometimes salt, coal, coins and matches. In Scotland the bread is shortbread and also included...what else? Whiskey! The First Footer then backs out of the door...so he won't take his good luck with him. Then the door (and the party) is free for all!  Many were also musicians, and would enter again to the last house on their list and play for the party.
The coal means your hearth won't grow cold, your bread is enough food, the coins insure prosperity and the matches, light. And the whiskey...happiness! Don't know that I agree with that equation, but....

First Footers who met the criteria, were in great demand and could make good money going from house to house by appointment. I don't know how many do so today, although a Scots neighbor said the gifts nowadays are more likely whiskey!  The first footer often wore a top hat, and this was said to been added in the 18th century, as the chimney sweeps wore top hats, and so signified sweeping away the old bad luck and making way for the new.

 And a very Happy New Year to you all!


  1. Hi Ruth, Thank you for that explanation/tradition of a top hat being used for New Year's symbols. Really interesting! I enjoyed seeing your postcards too!
    Wishing you good health, happiness and joy this New Year too!

  2. Happy New Year, Ruth! I always enjoy learning about different U.K. traditions on your blog. Looking forward to more Tuesday Cuppa Teas in 2016!

  3. What a fun post! How interesting this First Footer tradition is! We join you in prayer for the new year and in gratitude for the blessings of the past.

  4. Interesting tradition of the First Footers. I hope this new year brings you and your hubby good health and happiness Ruth.

  5. Best wishes for 2016 Ruth. Happy New Year!

  6. Happy New Year! Just want to let you know that you contributed much to us the previous years. I hope this new year brings you and your family more success and happiness.


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