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The Northumbrian Custom of First-Footing
The Northumbrian Custom of First-Footing

The Northumbrian Custom of First-Footing 1950


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The Northumbrian Custom of First-Footing 1950

7 mins United Kingdom

‘The old year out, the New Year in … With bottle in hand and a piece of black coal, a stranger’s a friend when first-footing you go.’ A husband banished from home with his good luck gifts fails to rush back after midnight and perform his role as a first-foot, joining a party of merry neighbours instead. His wife finds a tall, dark-haired milkman is the safest bet to welcome in the New Year.

This 1950s Newcastle & District ACA production takes a humorous look at a traditional custom, still alive and kicking in the north east and over the border in Scotland, though nowadays the number of open houses is much fewer.

Back in 1927, James Cameron gathered together a group of men and women (four of each) interested in making moving pictures. They formed the Newcastle branch of the Amateur Cinematographers Association, one of only five in Britain at the time. Against all the odds, the club still exists today. This film is part of a unique and eclectic collection, which dates back to those pioneering early decades of amateur cinematography.

North East Film Archive is one of a network of regional film archives established to collect, preserve and show film made in, or about the North East of England. Our collections are non-fiction, and date from the early 1900s to the present day, providing a rich record of life in the region over the 20th century. Many of our films are available to watch, free of charge, on our website.


Amateur film


Folk traditions Local customs New Years




United Kingdom

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