The Word of the day is qualtagh- the first person you meet after you leave the house.
No Splay-footed here
To ensure luck, a qualtagh should be a dark-haired man.
(The Scots believe the opposite. Sigh.)
He must not be spaagagh or splay-footed.
A red or fair-haired lady is considered unlucky. Sorry.
On New Years, the Qualtagh had better be bearing gifts.
These include whiskey, whiskey, and whiskey.
He can bring a coin, bread, salt, or coal too.
They all have a specific meaning for the year ahead.
coin = financial prosperity
bread = food
salt = flavour
coal = warmth
Whiskey = good cheer
On the plus side for the first-foot, he is served the finest the household has to offer.
Die like a Mouse
In old times, a group of young men might visit their wealthier neighbors on “the qualtagh”.
And entertain with this rhyme (loosely translated)
Don’t Qualtagh a Qualtagher
In order to be the “first-foot”, you can’t be in the house at the stroke of midnight.
So being there and then going outside and coming back in does NOT make you the Qualtagh!
No goodies for you.
Who’s the first person you see in the morning?
You could make their day more interesting by shouting “Qualtagh” at them in a booming, Gaelic sort of way.
Or just find out their name.
origin: from Gaelic (Manx) qualtagh, meaning “first foot”
Siobhan is a freelance writer, research addict and lover of twisted history. If you like horrible but amazing history, check out her website www.interesly.com or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/interesly. Or you can reach her through www.siobhanoshea.com.