Looking forward to my own first footing for an improved new year.

We are all feeling anxious for this year of 2020 to be well over our left shoulder, to be sure. While it is true that all of the strife, challenges, and restrictions may not disappear magically at the turn of a calendar page, I look forward to forcefully declaring to this bedeviled year to be GONE, taking it’s burr-riddled, odiferous hide and all it’s issues along with it.

Scottish tradition for the new year focuses on what we think of as New Year’s Eve. This celebration is called Hogmanay, or also known as welcoming of the first footing. The best way to start the new year, as I am sure we can all agree, is with great food and drink, a blessing, warm visits with a friend or two, and anticipation of good fortune for the coming year.

What does the Scottish word Hogmanay mean? Hogmanay is the word for the last day of the year and is equated with the celebration of the New Year in the Gregorian calendar as it is done in Scotland. The origins may be a bit unclear, but it is thought to come from Gaelic observances and as someone who has predominantly Gaelic (Irish and Scottish) blood roots, I enjoy these traditions.

Then what is first footing? First footing is when a dark-haired male arrives bearing special, symbolic gifts such as a coin, a lump of coal, a piece of dark bread, and drink (most probably whisky). These items are said to represent financial prosperity, warmth, food and good cheer. Salt is often included in the roster and no doubt is for fine luck and flavour as well as to contribute to the host’s food preparation. Some of the classics would be a cock-a-leekie soup (chicken soup) and a hearty, substantial fare like venison pie with a side dish of either Rumbledethumps (potato and vegetable bake) or delicious traditional smashed tatties and neeps (potatoes and turnips).

I was thinking about these traditions and while we are still some months away from Hogamany, I found myself painting the moment my door would open to a first footing, a dark haired guest bearing good fortune at that sweet midnight moment, and the way the warm and welcoming interior would spill out into the cold.

This painting is called, First Footing and is an 12″ x 16″ oil on canvas board. I am considering making this one into printed greeting cards for the season. What are your thoughts?


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