Do you enter with your right foot?

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In Greece, it is believed that when entering someone’s home for the first time, you should do so with the right foot first to ensure good luck for the home and all in int, and depending on whom you speak with—this varies in degree. There are those that believe one should enter everywhere, every time, with the right foot while others believe others you should only do upon entering a new home. Some just reserve this belief as a tradition to mark the New Year.

enter with right foot 

This New Year’s tradition states that at midnight a child must go out and smash a pomegranate down at the door step hard enough for it to break, then following that smash, step over the broken fruit through the door way with the right foot– bringing luck to the household for the whole year.

It isn’t just us Greeks, as many cultures have similar ‘right foot’ traditions. In Scottish and Northern English folklore, the first-foot, also known as qualtagh, states the first person to enter the household of a home on New Year’s Day is the person who brings good fortune for the coming year. Ideally this person should be dark haired, good looking and bring a small gift. I certainly fit the bill as Nicky describes me as tall, dark and handsome. Blond and redheads will bring bad luck if they are the first to enter, and all females should be shooed away for not only will no good luck come to the household, but it will be doomed for disaster.

In ancient times, Italian Governor and Philosopher Petronius noted it unlucky to enter a house or to leave one’s chamber left foot foremost Appointed by Julius Augustus Caesar, a very superstitious man, perhaps Petronius felt compelled to share the Emperors superstitious way of thinking. Pythagoras, one of Greece’s most famous and controversial philosophers, taught his students that it is necessary to put the shoe on the right foot first. “When stretching forth your feet to have your sandals put on, first extend your right foot”. Iamblichus, the Syrian Neoplatonist philosopher, tells us this symbolized that man’s first duty is reverence to the gods.

Islam teaches one to enter or leave our house with the right foot first. The Prophet, Imaam Abul Ala Hasan ibn Ahmad al-Hamazani, a great scholar of Hadith of his time, was so serious about using the right foot to enter that if someone entered his house with their left foot first, he would request them to go out and re-enter or come in with their right foot first. He was so much esteemed that the Sultan would visit him at the seminary and sit in front of him as a student and a keen observer. At one time, he told the Sultan to leave with his right foot first and walk on the right side of the road.

 

Shakespeare made reference to the use of the better foot in King John, 1596:

Nay, but make haste; the better foot before.

O, let me have no subject enemies,

When adverse foreigners affright my towns

With dreadful pomp of stout invasion!

Be Mercury, set feathers to thy heels,

And fly like thought from them to me again

 

Actually, the Latin word sinister means left, and in English sinister has kept its ominous meaning. Hence even back in Shakespeare’s time, it was advisable to keep the left foot behind and step forward with the best, the right, foot first. It was believed that ‘the left’ was the realm of the devil, of evil and misfortune.

It is rumored that the Colonists brought with them to America the belief. Today in America many will wish those in a new job, relationship, or adventure the luck of starting off with the right foot, a blessing for the new endeavor to go well.

There are most likely similar right foot first beliefs by more cultures. It is not possible to find the origin of this superstition– don’t try and figure it out, just simply belief it, enjoy it, or admire the history of beliefs that gave birth to this ‘right foot’ tradition.

happy 2015

Nicolas and Nicolette Kounelis are the husband and wife team who created the blog “The Adventures of Nick and Nicky”. Read more on our About Us page!

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