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I used to get a lump of coal in my ... where I'm from, is/was of course a traditional coal-mining area.

I was under the impression that "first footer" is a Scottish thing, and he should be a tall, dark stranger, ... Scottish friends, although I don't know how they coped with the "stranger" bit. Perhaps I am just stranger than them.

I just leafed through a bunch of sites looking for customs involving coal and winter holidays. I saw the first-footer ones as well as the gift giver ones (Father Christmas, etc.) but this one was noticeably different:
But undoubtedly the tradition which is most deeply rooted in the Basque Country is the "Olentzero" or coal man. On Christmas Eve, throughout virtually all the towns in Euskadi, the figure of a shepherd or a coal man is lifted up, sitting in a basket, onto the shoulders of people who take it from house to house throughout the town or village, and at every house that it passes, the young people that accompany the Olentzero stop to sing a Chrismtas carol.
In Navarra, for example, the Olentzero is a coal man who comes down from the mountains to hand out
chestnuts and wine, and of course presents for the little ones.
(Snip more Basque customs involving the "Coal Man")

Best - Donna Richoux
I was hoping Hutton would also have something on Christmas stockings, but no.

Actually, that's misleading - he does: he says it's a German custom first referred to in England in 1854, though it reached France and Italy earlier. It became common among the working-class who couldn't afford more than a stocking's-worth of presents. But he doesn't mention coal or potatoes.

Katy Jennison
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On Thu, 23 Dec 2004, In message , Donna Richoux (Email Removed) writes
I only know the Tooth Fairy. Do they do the Tooth Fairy in the UK? (Put your tooth under the pillow, or in a glass of water, and in the morning, it's a coin.)

Oh yes. And it got expensive about three months ago when my son lost three teeth in less than a week.

Mark Browne
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I used to get a lump of coal in my ... where I'm from, is/was of course a traditional coal-mining area.

I was under the impression that "first footer" is a Scottish thing, and he should be a tall, dark stranger, ... Scottish friends, although I don't know how they coped with the "stranger" bit. Perhaps I am just stranger than them.

It was well known in the North West of England. At five to midnight on New Year's Eve on my street in Manchester there were tall dark blokes outside most houses, shivering with cold and loaded with lumps of coal, loaves of bread and all kinds of other stuff. Manchester and Lancashire were also coal-mining areas but I don't think that was relevant.
John Dean
Oxford
I only know the Tooth Fairy. Do they do the ... glass of water, and in the morning, it's a coin.)

Oh yes. And it got expensive about three months ago when my son lost three teeth in less than a week.

Aha. And you did it as a child, as well?
I'm wondering now how old this custom is; somehow it feels modern and not something that goes back beyond a century or so.

Best Donna Richoux
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Do they do the Tooth Fairy in the UK? (Put your tooth under the pillow, or in a glass of water, and in the morning, it's a coin.)

Yes, in our house in the 1950s. Under the pillow.

Mike Barnes
Cheshire, England
I assume she learned that particular mickey-taking from her father it sounds like his sense of humour but was this just our family's idea of a non-present, or was it more widespread than that?

What does "mickey-taking" mean?
I assume she learned that particular mickey-taking from her father ... of a non-present, or was it more widespread than that?

What does "mickey-taking" mean?

mocking

John Dean
Oxford
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Do they do the Tooth Fairy in the UK? (Put
your tooth under the pillow, or in a glass of water, and in the morning, it's a coin.)

Indeed we do, under the pillow.
During a check-up, our dentist offered to remove a very loose tooth from our daughter's mouth. She agreed, since it was causing her some discomfort. The tooth somehow escaped and shot across the surgery. "You have to find it, or the Tooth Fairy won't leave me any money!" she shrieked. After poking about on his hands and knees for a minute or two, he whispered to me "Do you think she'd notice if I gave her a substitute?" I wasn't too keen on the idea of taking home someone else's old tooth and he did find the errant tooth eventually. A lengthy letter was written to the TF and the standard 10p rate was increased substantially in view of the trauma suffered.
This led to great jealousy from her younger brother who, on the next occasion of tooth loss, left this note: "Dear Tooth Fairy, I now have a bank account so you can leave me a cheque this time." He was not pleased to find 10p accompanied by an apologetic letter from a representative of the National Elf Service.

Laura
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