Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Lost Art of Superstition

A simple trip to the local store in my tiny town brought superstitions to mind.   Last night my youngest and I popped into our local market and on the way out I found a shiny penny, face up, in the doorway of the store.  Remembering the superstition "Find a penny, pick it up. All day long it'll bring good luck." I naturally got excited.  

Being from the younger generation, my son's response to my excitement was "If you look in the ashtray, you'll feel really lucky."

Growing up, I often heard many different superstitions from my Mom.  Some of them were totally off the wall but many of them made me believe in superstitions despite the irritation it gave many of my Christian friends.  As a Christian myself, I felt kind of guilty for believing some of the ideas told me but they really made me wonder.  
  • The belief that if your left hand itches you will receive money while if your right hand itches you will pay money has always come true for me.  Oddly the stronger the itch, the larger the amount of money.  
  • Breaking a mirror is supposed to bring you seven years bad luck.  For me it was the opposite, when I broke the large mirror on my dresser as a teenager, it was followed by seven years of the best luck I have ever had.  
  • If a bird flies at your window someone in the house will be pregnant.  When birds flew into my parents kitchen window,this proved to be true with all of my siblings.  When I called my Mom to tell her I was pregnant with my first child, she told me she already knew because of the bird.  {Thankfully, the impact with the glass never killed any birds.}
  • If you peel an apple without breaking the peel: i.e. cut around the apple so that the peel is in one long piece, you should throw the peel to the ground and if it lands in the shape of a letter of the alphabet then it is the initial of the person you will marry.  This proved true with two husbands and my fiancé. As well as...
  • When you peel an apple say the alphabet and the letter that you are on when the peel breaks is the initial of the person that you will marry.
  • Bad luck ALWAYS comes in threes.
  • When a black cat ran across the road in front of you, you would say BREAD & BUTTER ON MY TABLE, CUT IT WITH A BUTTER KNIFE if you could not turn around and go another way, or bad luck would come to you. This has been a difficult one to follow since we usually have black cats.
  • and: You always say so long or I'll see you later, & never goodbye, when leaving family members or you might never see them again.  I was told this by a dear friend of my Mom's.  The last time I saw her I said "bye"... she died not long afterward.
  • The thickness of the brown stripe on the Wooly Bear Caterpillar determines the severely of winter {the thicker the stripe, the harsher the winter.}
  • When leaves on trees turn up, a storm is coming.
  • When chimney smoke goes to the ground, bad weather will follow.
  • The number of fogs in August predict the number of snow storms the following winter
  • A ring around the moon means that rain will come in three days.
  • Crickets in the house bring good luck. As do Ladybugs.  {I guess I am going to be incredibly lucky considering the number of ladybugs who inhabit my home.}
Other superstitions that I have heard over the years but never paid attention to include:
  • If you drop a fork, a man will come to visit you.
  • If you drop spoon, a woman will come to visit you.
  • If a bird flies into your house a death will occur.
  • If you sweep under someone's feet, they will never marry.
  • Never say "thank you" when someone gives you a plant or it will die.
  • If you carry a hoe, spade, or shovel in the house, you must carry it out the same door you came in by, or a death will follow.
  • If all the food on the table is eaten it will be a clear day tomorrow. 
  • If all of the biscuits were gone before the next day, the weather would be fair.
  • If you start to go somewhere and come back for something you will have bad luck.    
  • If you count the number of rigs in a funeral procession you will soon have a death in your own family. 
  • If two forks are laid at a plate with no knife you will be invited to a wedding. 
  • Cats go crazy when a death occurs in their environment and consequently are kept out of the house on such occasions. 
  • If you drop a dish towel on the floor, a worse housekeeper than yourself is coming to visit you.   
  • Never begin a task on a Friday that you can't finish that week, or expect ill. 
  • If your right ear itches, someone is saying bad things about you.  If your left ear itches, they are talking nicely about you. 
  • A peculiar noise heard three times in succession at night, means someone will die.
  • If you spilled some salt, you picked some of it up and threw it over your left shoulder to stop bad luck from coming.
  • Dirt was never swept out the front door after the sun went down or bad luck would come to your home.
  • If a sparrow flew into the home, it had to be killed or someone in the family would die. 
  • You never walked under a ladder or bad luck would come to you.
  • You could not step on a crack in the sidewalks, because it would break your mothers back. 
  • If salt was borrowed from anyone, you paid it back with sugar or bad luck would come to you.
  • A baby was never allowed to look in a mirror before it was a year old or it would die.
  • If a woman was pregnant she never went to a funeral or she would mark her baby.
  • You never tickeled a baby's feet because it would make it stutter. 
Whether or not you personally believe in superstitions, they can be fun just to know.  As for me. I'm not throwing caution to the wind. If these things happen, I'll look to see what they might mean. 

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