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First footing

Posted by Shae on January 01, 2004

In Reply to: More good luck stuff for New Year's posted by ESC on January 01, 2004

: http://www.snopes.com/holidays/newyears/newyears.htm

The late Kevin Danaher described some Irish New Year customs, most of which seem to involve dashing bread against doors:
'A cake is thrown against the outside of each door by the head of the family, which ceremony is said to keep out hunger during the ensuing [year].'

'On the eve of the Twelfth day a large loaf called the "Christmas Loaf" which is usually baked some days prviously, is laid with great solemnity on the table; the doors and windows are closed and strongly bolted; and one of the family generally the housewife, then takes the loaf, and pounding it against the closed doors, etc. repeats three times, in Irish, the following Rann:

[translation] We banish famine
Out to the country of the Turks;
From tonight to a year from tonight,
And from this night forever'

'A very popular belief held that the first person or creature to enter the house after midnight [on New Year's Day] should be black or black-haired and also male to be lucky. To ensure their luck, many households sent out a suitably endowed member or friend before midnight to perfprm this office of lucky 'first footing' immediately after midnight.'

Kevin Danaher, 'The Year in Ireland,' Mercier Press, 1972

PS. I like his dedication to the book: 'To Anne, whose gracious silence made it possible.'