Saturday, July 26, 2008

Superstitions, Folk Lore, and Wives Tales

I am dying.

I have to be because two of my cousins dreamed that I had a baby. Where I come from (Central West Virginia), that means death. Everyone knows it because we grew up hearing it. Dream of a birth, sign of a death. Dream of a death, sign of a birth. As we joked about my dying because of their dreams, it made me remember other superstitions that abound. So I thought I'd do a post highlighting those superstitions that I grew up with, because those old wives tales were very colorful.

The Grim Reaper

A bird in the house means a loved one is going to die. Oh, and you better hope no one dies, because death comes in threes. Actually, I am a believer of that one-if you accept that several months can pass between them. Dog howling all night long? Nope, it isn't a critter in your yard, it's the sign someone is dying. Hmm, lots of people are dying around here because Otis the Faint of Heart howls all night long if the porch light isn't on! (That's Otis in the picture)

Who's the Boss?

According to my grandmother, it's the one whose toe beside of the big toe sticks out past their big toe. Hmm, neither my husband or I have that trait. I guess that's a good thing. Oh, and I can remember twisting the stem off of an apple while reciting the alphabet. Supposedly, whatever letter the stem comes off on is the first letter of your future husband's name. Don't let anyone sweep around you or you'll never get married.

Show Me the Money!

Palm of your hand itching? Well, aren't you lucky-that means you have money coming your way! And if you find a coin on the ground-don't pick it up unless it's showing heads. Tails is bad luck.

Baby, Baby

A pregnant woman has to be extremely careful, it's possible to hurt the baby in so many different ways. Don't raise your arms over your head-it'll wrap the cord around the baby's neck and strangle it. Don't look at a snake, it'll mark the baby. I'm not exactly sure what 'mark the baby' means, but if I look at a snake I'll probably have a heart attack! And get rid of that pet cat for heaven's sake-it'll suck the breath right out of your baby. Oh, and to relieve the pain of labor, stick a knife under the bed. Yeah, that'll help.

Somebody's Knocking

If your nose is itching, company's coming. Accidentally set the table with one too many forks? No problem, company that is hungry can be expected. But hey, if you drop that fork, expect a man to arrive. Got an itch or burning sensation in your ear? Someone's talking about you. Does your feet/foot itch? Then pack your bags, you're about to walk somewhere you've never been before.

I Can't- It's My Time of the Month

These I have memorized and whipped out when I was a teenager, whether I was on my time or not. They were a surefire way of getting out of work! A woman on her monthly can't help can anything because everything she touches will spoil. Shuck the corn? Chop up lettuce. Darn, I forgot to mention that I started today, didn't I? A woman on her monthly shouldn't be near water because she can take quick TB and die. My turn to wash dishes? Oops, can't. . . it's my time. (I used that ALOT! Until they caught on that I was averaging five periods a month ;0))

Odds and Ends

If you spill salt, throw a pinch over your left shoulder to ward off the devil. If you aren't the one to open a knife, then don't close it or bad luck occurs. When you speak of something good happening, knock on wood to keep the evil spirits from coming to take it away. Who needs the Weather channel? Red sky at morning, sailors take warning. Right sky at night, sailors delight. Don't break a mirror or it's seven years bad luck. Don't walk under a ladder or open an umbrella indoors-both are tempting fate. Have a bad dream? Keep it to yourself until you've eaten or it will come true.

Wow, that was alot of superstitions, I'm surprised I remembered that many. How about you, readers? Any superstitions that came in handy to get out of work? Any that make you sweat just a bit with worry?


Kelly Krysten said...

I remember the apple stem one! But everytime I did it I came up with a different letter. Are we thinking multiple marriages?*g* And, alas, I think I might not have to worry about those many marriages because I have been swept around more than once. I also have the big toe smaller than the toe beside it thing-I don't know how I feel about
And I'm really hoping my palm will start to itch soon. Just thinking about it makes my hand sort of

I don't think I have any superstitions to add to your list. You certainly have all the ones I could think up and much more.
Great blog!

Terry Stone said...

Kelly, you know what? Everytime I think about the money thing-I think I feel my hand starting to itch! LOL.

I am so glad you enjoyed this post. It was fun remembering all the crazy-er, I mean, eccentric things my grandparents believed.

Gillian Layne said...

Terry, I haven't heard a bunch of these, and I grew up hearing all sorts of superstitions around here! Boy, could you have fun with these in a book....

When something breaks around here, we all go "oh, dear" because to us it's that "3" thing. We probably bring the bad luck on ourselves. :)

Terry Stone said...

Gillian, when something breaks around here, we all go "Otis!!!"

And I wonder why the 3 thing only works for bad luck-why not for good luck?