The following is an excerpt from "The Camerons" by Robert Crichton. It is
a very good book about a Scottish coal-mining family. I highly recommend
"What worried them, what became almost an obsession with the family, was who
their first-footer would be. It was one of the few superstitions that seized
them as a family, because they had several times before seen the truth of it
borne out. In Pitmungo, and in other places in Scotland as well, to insure good
fortune and good health for the new life in the new house, it is vital that
the first outsider to cross the threshold be a handsome, well-built, dark
man, dark hair and dark complexion, and, if not a man, a comely fair woman.
He must, futhermore, come with something in his hand, a gift or offering,
or there would be hunger in the house and even death. Some people in
Pitmungo who didn't have a friend handsome enough or dark enough to qualify
for good fortune went so far as to hire men to walk through the door on the
first day of the year or on moving and to hand them a bag of oranges or a
bottle of whisky that they had bought themselves.