In Scottland and the Northern parts of England New Years ( known as Hogmanay) is an important celibration steeped in tradition. Shortly after 'the bells' - the stroke of midnight when public clocks would chime to signal the start of the new year neighbours go from house to house, wishing each other well for the coming year ahead. Good wishes are celibrated with food and plenty of drink. This visiting was known as first footing. Great importance was placed on who would be the first to eneter the home and " bring in the new year" once midnight passed.
Tradition has it a tall, dark and handsome man was the prefered first footer, red heads were always considered bad luck. (that leaves me out, or would have.. lol)
First-foots brought symbolic gifts to the house: coal for the fire, to ensure that the house would be warm and safe, and shortbread or black bun (a type of fruit cake) to symbolise that the household would never go hungry that year.
First-footing has faded in recent years, particularly with the growth of the major street celebrations in Edinburgh and Glasgow
graphic /an old etching of first footing in edinburgh