Happy New Year 2012

First Foot items

One of the New Year’s traditions I started some years back… though I’m not sure if I’ve really done a good job of keeping it… has to do with the Scottish rite of Hogmanay. Although my immediate roots are Canadian, they reach far deeper into Scottish nationality and culture. Hogmanay is quite the celebration in Scotland; a video that shows the excitement makes it look as wild as July 4th in the U.S. (Vimeo) Part of the tradition is to have everything clean and ready to begin the New Year, but that always seems like to much effort during Christmastime. At least I try to have everything neat and tidy… and all the mess that needs to be sorted in one corner of our townhouse. One of the reasons I like to have people come visit is: that way I have to have the house looking at least presentable.

We do try to have a first foot every year: the first person to enter the house (traditionally right after midnight) should be tall and dark (and handsome… but that’s just my preference). He (there are conflicting traditions about a female first-foot) usually carries items for gifts that represent good things in the year to come. Below I’ve listed some of the traditional items and what they represent… and some of the versions we use (and will be using tonight). The items are supposed to be easy to get and easily recognizable… and part of everyday life. Much though the older items are heavy with symbolism (which is sometimes disputed… and we note this especially because we keep some of them solely for use once a year as the first-foot), the modern versions are a little more personal. Perhaps in some places they are still used; but in this time and culture the symbolism is a little lost. Using these items brings the tradition forward to our world and culture.

Traditional Item


Modern Item


Financial Prosperity

Silver (coin)



Cornbread, Christmas Cake



Charcoal, Propane



Hot Sauce

Drink (whisky)

Good Cheer

Drink (Beer; whisky)

I’ve enclosed a picture of our first-foot material at right. Most of them are exactly as described. I did decide to give a bit of a nod to my heritiage by including a Canadian silver dollar (from 1953) and a British pound, as well as an ounce of silver my father gave me many years back. I figure we wouldn’t mind enjoying as much “financial prosperity” as we can muster.

I know that many of us have different traditions to bring in the New Year; as I write it has just passed midnight inDublin Ireland… so they are on the other side of the midnight line that marks the transition from 2011 to 2012. (I wonder what percentage of the planet’s population is now in 2012?) But no matter what, I want to wish all my readers a Happy New Year.

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One Response to Happy New Year 2012

  1. Pingback: Traditions 2014 | The Geographer's Corner

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