New Years is a time for traditions. We watch the ball drop, we kiss at midnight, sing Auld Lang Syne and raise a glass with our loved ones. But there’s one tradition that we’ve lost, and like the source of whiskey, it can be traced back to Scotland. And what’s even better, this custom actually involves whiskey.
For hundreds of years, the Scots have honored the holiday celebration Hogmanay and the custom of first-foot, starting on December 31st. It’s difficult to trace the origins of Hogmanay, but it likely comes from Norse and Gaelic observances. Even when Christmas celebrations were banned for 400 years (only being lifted during the 1950s), Hogmanay was still a time for light, laughter and loved ones. However, one tradition stands out for us in particular—first-foot.
First-foot, or quaaltagh in Gaelic, is a custom where the first person to enter a home on New Year’s Day either brings good or bad fortune for the following year, depending on the quality of their whiskey. As soon as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, it’s officially on. And you can’t cheat the system by leaving your home right before midnight and stepping back in after the bell tolls.
Traditionally, a tall, dark-haired man is considered the luckiest possible first-footer. Apparently Scotts are still nervous about fair-haired men (thanks, Vikings). This first-foot guest would traditionally bring a series of symbolic gifts: coal, bread, salt, a shortbread and, of course, whiskey.
These days, whiskey is the most common first-foot gift, and that’s a tradition we can really get behind. While it might be a common Scottish practice, in America, anybody showing up to a party after midnight with good whiskey is considered a blessing. We can’t say how your luck will be in the coming year, but show up with a bottle of Angel’s Envy, and we’re pretty sure that you’ll all have a great night.