I have to thank Cindy for pointing me in the direction of this very fabulous article on New Years Eve - Hogmanay in Scotland.
My father hails from Auld Reekie and has memories of First Footing.
Courtesy of Rampant Scotland :-
"First footing" (that is, the "first foot" in the house after midnight) is still common in Scotland. To ensure good luck for the house, the first foot should be male, dark (believed to be a throwback to the Viking days when blond strangers arriving on your doorstep meant trouble) and should bring symbolic coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and whisky. These days, however, whisky and perhaps shortbread are the only items still prevalent (and available).
According to my father first footing in his young day meant visiting all your friends and neighbours and having a drink and there were people who kept going around for days after the New Year first footing....Talk about chancers!
The reference to someone dark and the old superstition regarding blondes harking back to the Vikings raises a rather interesting point. At one point researches thought the key to red hair lay in a combination of a mixture of dark and light haired parents. Could this explain all those hats touted in tourist shops? A tartan concoction with a fringe of red hair? Could this also explain red heads legendary tempers? Could the Vikings a group of people depicted as war like invaders be the cause behind the rage? But then the early Scots whose roots lie in the Celtic people certainly wern't shy about coming forward, after all the Romans in the end thought life would be easier to deal with the Northaners if they built a wall and kept them out of England.
Another interesting point the article mentioned was the fact that until the 1950's, Christmas was banned in Scotland. It has something to do with the Protesent's seeing it as too "Catholic". My Grandmother who was originaly from England went to live in Scotland after she married my Grandfather and when she first moved up she was shocked that there was no Christmas! I have to admit I find it hard to comprehend when she told the story and since my father has since told it.
Enough food for thought tonight I think, I have a date with the Edinbourgh Tattoo and a piece of shortbread. Which brings one last point I have to raise, watching the Australian Tattoo they talked about why it was called a Tattoo (something I myself have wondered), it stems back to the 1800's and the drum beat that signified to pub land lords they must turn off the beer taps and soldiers to return to their barracks.
Learn something everyday!
A boan fide war like red head and damn perplexed by it.