First-foot of the New Year

=IcaruS= ChimneaFirelight has traditionally been a source of warmth and comfort through the ages; it is prominently featured in many feasts and holidays. It is use to cleanse and to give light, to ‘confound the darkness’ and lift spirits. We have a bringer of cheery light and warmth for your virtual life in the form of the =IcaruS= Chimnea, which is readily available in our shop on the Second Life Marketplace.

As bells around the world ring at the stroke of midnight to usher in the new year, we turn our eyes forward to the arrival of 2015. Perhaps we have spent the last day of the year cleaning house, sorting out things. Some of us watch our old things go up in smoke, in the process of making room for fresh and new things to come.

We think about some of the old New Year traditions that we keep, while discarding those that have lost meaning for us. So much of the old still comes with us into the new year, but there’s a reason for it: continuity. Life goes on, seasons change, the sun becomes slowly stronger, days are getting longer.

Therein lie the roots of Hogmanay, or the Night of the Candle. A treasured practice in Scotland and northern England dating back to the Vikings, homes are cleaned on the last day of the old year, then juniper branches are set alight and carried throughout the home to disperse any lingering diseases or impurities.

On the stroke of midnight, people open the back doors of their homes to let the old year out. Then the first dark-haired man to cross the threshold carrying salt, coal and bread is welcomed, to ensure that in the new year everyone in the house will have enough to eat (bread), enough money (salt) and be warm enough (coal). This is First-foot – the first person who steps foot into the home bearing these items in hand. Typically this first person is a tall, dark-haired man, but it is uncertain why; it is considered lucky.

Thus people may rush from house to house, welcoming the new year and wishing good fortune toward friends and neighbours. It is customary to welcome the first-foot, accept his gifts and offer him drinks.

Fireworks at HogmanayToday, fireworks may be set off as well, with merrymaking, sharing of meals and drinking of whiskey and wine. The Scots are especially enthusiastic celebrants of the occasion.

Across this old world, there is some version of celebrating New Year’s Eve. It’s an occasion to be shared, between two or two thousand, to say farewell to the old and usher in the new.

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