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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/323

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FIRST-FOOTING IN ABERDEENSHIRE.


FIRST-FOOTING is still practised in some parts of this county on the morning of the New Year ; but, as a rule, little, if any, importance is attached to the first-foot. It is generally engaged in merely for the "fun of the thing", and sometimes, perhaps, for the sake of the dram, which is generally offered and shared on those occasions, and which it would be unlucky to refuse. The drinking is, however, by no means a recent introduction. One of my informants, the Rev. Dr. Cock of Rathen, a parish in the north-east of the county of Aberdeen, where he succeeded his father as minister, tells me that about sixty years ago, when he was a boy, he recollects that spiced ale was generally carried by the first-foot, and shared with all whom he met, or at whose houses he visited. Readers of Chambers's Book of Days will find on page 28 of vol. i the recipe for the spiced ale, and an account of its use in Edinburgh by the first-foot on a similar occasion. The whisky-bottle has nowadays entirely superseded the more picturesque, but probably hardly less intoxicating wassail-kettle, mentioned by Chambers, though the reason which prompted the carrying of either on these first-footing visits was identical. Everywhere it seems to have been considered most important for luck in the coming year to the family on which he calls that the first-foot should not make his entry empty-handed. A whisky-bottle certainly met this requirement, inasmuch as it filled the bearer's hand ; and even if its contents sometimes filled his head also, before he had gone his round, he and his bottle were still welcomed by the superstitious housewife, because they set her mind at rest about another super-