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Celtic cross the threshold

Posted by Lewis on October 14, 2005

In Reply to: First footing posted by Shae on September 23, 2005

: : : The Good Foot - Is this phrase a creation of the Godfather of Soul (James Brown), or did he get it from somewhere else? I have heard that it might be a phrase from Tarot cards or Voodoo, but I can find no proof that it, along with several other phrases, did not arise out of the mind of Mr. James Brown.

: : Hands are much more common in magic than feet. The only foot I can think of is the lucky rabbit's foot.
: : "First Footing" is another superstition though - to bring about a good year. superstition may be a bit strong, custom or tradition might be better. In Northumberland and up - the first person across the threshold should carry a lump of coal and kiss the women of the house. we used to do it at New Year parties and all the men would go outside, the male host would get the bit of coal and the women would line up inside to await our attentions.

: 'First footing' was practiced in Ireland too. 'A very popular belief held that the first person or creature to enter the house after midnight 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 perform this office of lucky "first footing" immediately after midnight. Others trusted to chance for their lucky first footing and were happy when their first visitor was a black cat or a dark haired boy.' - Kevin Danaher, 'The Year in Ireland,' MercierPress, 1972.

If it is an Irish tradition too, then it seems likely it has common Celtic roots. there is something in the back of my mind about the visitor carrying coal and possibly whisky as tokens of fruitfulness - is whiskey involved in first footing in Ireland?

L