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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/322

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314
First-Footing in Scotland.

ing, the dancing, the toozling, the "pairtin" (or leave-taking), and at last the "first-fittin is ower" (is over).

Then out on the streets all is bustle and commotion, hurrying to and fro of young people, cheering and singing, some drinking and health-toasting, every possible and conceivable portable musical instrument brought into play; cheer after cheer, chorus after chorus, rend the air of the early morn, and not until daylight sends them home do the streets of Edinburgh resume their usual wont and quiet; and thus all this stir, all this commotion, all this hubbub, over the old, old custom of "first-fittin", the first lucky foot to cross a threshold on the New Year's morn, and to be sure and not to go in "empty-handed" (without a gift), to some one, and especially the loved one, else bad or ill luck or poverty thereafter.

Since the passing of the Forbes MacKenzie Act, closing the public-houses at eleven o'clock, the increase of our police forces, the action of the Early Rechabites and total abstainers, in conjunction with temperance societies of every grade, and the evangelistic workers in all our churches, all uniting in one grand endeavour to stay the forces of the evil of intoxication at such a time as New Year, and now the inducements of recreation and amusements of every description instead, is fast bringing into disuse and distaste the "auld, auld custom of 'first-fittin' in Guid Auld Scotia".

G. HASTIE.


[Mr. Hastie's account of First-Footing in Edinburgh is valuable as giving the actual experience of an old resident of the town, and has therefore been left untouched.—Ed. F.-L.]