Name That List, #68

What is this a list of? The answer is below in extended.

  • women
  • people with flat feet, eyebrows that meet, squint eyes, or obvious physical deformities
  • midwives
  • gravediggers and morticians
  • hangmen
  • thieves
  • doctors and clergymen
  • those dressed excessively well or poorly
  • stingy or immoral people
  • cats


The types of people (and creature) that, according to the ancient superstition of First-Footing, will bring bad luck for the rest of the year if they're the first to enter into your home on the first day of the New Year. Source: Encyclopedia of New Year's holidays worldwide, by William D. Crump.

More info from the same source:

An ancient superstition holds that the person or creature that first sets foot in the home on the first day of the New Year determines the luck for the year. Although most people no longer strictly hold to the superstition as such, "first-footing" still remains a most endearing tradition in Northern England and in Scotland. Most first-footers are friends or relatives of families, and the following are acceptable first-footers because they bring good luck: tall, handsome, dark-haired men with a high instep (the latter trait preferred in Scotland); children; generous, merry men not associated with witchcraft; those who were born footling breech; and dogs.

There are exceptions; for example, areas of Eastern Scotland, East Yorkshire, and Lincolnshire favor fair-haired men, whereas Bradford in West Yorkshire and parts of Aberdeenshire favor redheaded men.

First-footers bringing bad luck include: women (sometimes permissible in Wales and in the Isle of Man); people with flat feet, eyebrows that meet, squint eyes, red hair (exceptions noted above), or obvious physical deformities; midwives; gravediggers and morticians; hangmen; thieves; doctors and clergymen; those dressed excessively well or poorly; stingy or immoral people; and cats.

Those meeting the requirements of first-footers then make their rounds visiting homes shortly after midnight and bear handsels, the traditional and symbolic offerings of bread for sustenance, a lump of coal or other firing for warmth, salt and money for prosperity, and a bottle of whiskey to warm the spirits. According to ritual, the first-footer enters by the front door (and if possible leaves by the back), places the coal on the fire (and stirs the fire in some areas), lays the other gifts on the table, and pours a drink for the head of the house. No one speaks until these amenities are concluded, after which the first-footer pronounces a New Year's wish of luck and prosperity for the home.
     Posted By: Alex - Sat Dec 31, 2022
     Category: Name That List

Seems like the list would be shorter if it was of those that actually could enter.
Posted by F.U.D in Stockholm on 12/31/22 at 07:00 AM
Most of my friends are amoral rather than immoral, so they're apparently approved.
If the dogs don't bring a human along, I hope they are relieved from having to carry the handsels.

Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 12/31/22 at 08:25 AM
Seems to me that the luckiest first-footer would be a St.Bernard with a satchel containing bread, dog treats, coal, salt and loose change. The people of the house would still need to remove the satchel and give the coal to the dog, who would then deposit it in the cold fireplace. Afterwards, it would be very bad luck not to give the dog a treat, for he's such a good boy.
Posted by Yudith on 01/01/23 at 08:17 AM
Yudith, since your standard St. Bernard carries brandy in his/her cask, not whiskey, this one is indeed lucky.
The dog's bark after the treat is then the New Year's wish of luck and prosperity.

Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 01/01/23 at 03:53 PM
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