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Footing

Footing is a visiting custom ostensibly to bring good luck and is best known now in the New Year's Eve variety known as First Footing. Footing also refers to initiation in a new trade or Occupation.

First Footing was common in England and Scotland but now seems confined to Durham, Northumberland and Scotland although it does seem to be celebrated in parts of Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire.

The person designated to First Foot is usually a tall dark haired man who will carry items intended to convey good luck and prosperity e.g. Coal, Bread or Cake and Drink to guarantee Warmth, Food and Drink to the households he visits. The First Footer must be the first person over the threshold of a house after a designated time (usually midnight). In some places, it is Coal and Salt that are brought and others still have Coal and Money. The First Footer is offered refreshments by the household visited.

Why a dark haired man and why so prevalent in the North? The answer usually given is that a blond (Viking) was not a welcome sight.