There is a celebration in Scotland, known as Hogmanay, which is associated with the new year. Part of that celebration is the tradition of First Foot, that the first foot to enter the house after midnight on New Year’s Eve determines the luck that that household will have in the next 12 months. The tradition holds that for the house to have good luck, the first foot should be male, dark (believed to be a throwback to the Viking days when blond strangers arriving on your doorstep meant trouble) and that he should bring coal, shortbread, salt, a coin, black bun and whisky. These symbolically represent financial prosperity, food, flavour, warmth and good cheer. These days, however, whisky and perhaps shortbread are the only items still prevalent (and available).
Hogmanay revellers visit friends and family immediately after midnight, often rushing from house to house to welcome in the New Year. In some places women have to remain in the house whilst the males of the house gather in the street, re-entering the house after midnight.
Apparently there are similar traditions in Ireland, Northern England, Greece and in some parts of the US.
So let it be for today’s Bytes item, let the first post that enters your home via email or online be positive and inspirational.
I was thinking about this earlier today when I reread Maya Angelou’s poem “I’ve Learned”.
Angelou (1928 - ) is an American author and poet who has, in her lifetime, been variously a pimp, prostitute, night-club dancer and performer, cast member of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, author, journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the days of decolonization, and actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement, and worked with martin Luther King Jnr and Malcolm X. Since the 1990s she has made around eighty appearances a year on the lecture circuit, something she continued into her eighties. She campaigned for Hilary Clinton and subsequently for Barack Obama in 2008. In 2011 she was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama.
There is another marvellous poem, also called “I’ve Learned”, by one Omer B Washington, but I have not been able to locate any information about him.
Both poems are set out below.
Although Omer Washington's poem was previously posted in Bytes it is worth reposting, both poems serving admirably as a literary first foot.
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- Maya Angelou
I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today,
life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.
I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents,
you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.
I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as 'making a life'.
I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands;
you need to be able to throw some things back.
I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart,
I usually make the right decision.
I've learned that even when I have pains,
I don't have to be one.
I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone.
People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.
I've learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.
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- Omer B Washington
I've learned that you cannot make someone love you.
All you can do is be someone who can be loved.
The rest is up to them.
I’ve learned that no matter how much I care,
some people just don’t care back.
I’ve learned that it takes years to build up trust,
and only seconds to destroy it.
I’ve learned that it’s not what you have in your life,
but who you have in your life that counts.
I’ve learned that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes.
After that, you’d better know something.
I’ve learned that you shouldn’t compare yourself to the best others can do,
but to the best you can do.
I’ve learned that it’s not what happens to people,
It’s what they do about it.
I’ve learned that no matter how thin you slice it,
there are always two sides.
I’ve learned that you should always leave loved ones with loving words.
It may be the last time you see them.
I’ve learned that you can keep going
long after you think you can’t.
I’ve learned that heroes are the people who do what has to be done
When it needs to be done
regardless of the consequences.
I’ve learned that there are people who love you dearly,
but just don’t know how to show it.
I’ve learned that sometimes when I’m angry I have the right to be angry,
but that doesn’t give me the right to be cruel.
I’ve learned that true friendship continues to grow even over the longest distance.
Same goes for true love.
I’ve learned that just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to
doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.
I’ve learned that no matter how good a friend is,
they’re going to hurt you every once in a while
and you must forgive them for that.
I’ve learned that it isn’t always enough to be forgiven by others.
Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.
I’ve learned that no matter how bad your heart is broken,
the world doesn’t stop for your grief.
I’ve learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are,
but we are responsible for who we become.
I’ve learned that just because two people argue, it doesn’t mean that they don’t love each other.
And just because they don’t argue, it doesn’t mean they do.
I’ve learned that sometimes you have to put the individual
ahead of their actions.
I’ve learned that two people can look at the exact same thing
and see something totally different.
I’ve learned that no matter the consequences,
those who are honest with themselves get farther in life.
I’ve learned that your life can be changed in a matter of hours
by people who don’t even know you.
I’ve learned that even when you think you have no more to give,
when a friend cries out to you,
you will find the strength to help.
I’ve learned that writing, as well as talking,
can ease emotional pains.
I’ve learned that the people you care most about in life
are taken from you too soon.
I’ve learned that it’s hard to determine where to draw the line between being nice
and not hurting people’s feelings and standing up for what you believe.
I’ve learned to love and be loved.
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To all Byters and readers I extend my best wishes for the coming year.
Live long and prosper.
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