I recently had to do some research on this subject for the book I’m working on and was amazed at the strange superstitions and traditions that people had back since the beginning of time and still do in some instances.
We’re all familiar with the bad luck that will come when a black cat crosses one’s path. We’ve heard never to walk under a ladder or step on any cracks or we’ll break our mother’s backs. But I wanted some unusual, colorful superstitions. I want my story to be the best it can so I went looking for things that will add depth and a level of emotion. What I found was truly amazing.
Did you know that to give away a book with a red cover will break a friendship? I doubt it. Red is the color of anger and misunderstanding it seems. I don’t know about that, but I’ve lost some friendships because a person I loaned a book to never returned it. This is a pet peeve of mine and it taught me a valuable lesson that I adhere to no matter the circumstance.
In the old days, ashes retaining their heat for a great length of time foretold a marriage in the family. But beware of taking ashes out of the house after nightfall or you’ll bring death in. Also, when baking bread cracks across the top it is a sign of death. And in Armenia, a baby had to be covered with a quilt when bread was put in the oven or the baby would pine away and die.
Nature was believed to be a good predictor of weather and some is still believed today. When ducks migrate early in the fall, a difficult winter can be expected. Rain is coming when wasps, flies, or spiders come into the house. Cattle running about with their tails up in the air mean a storm is coming. But an ax stuck in the ground can “split the cloud” to keep an unwanted storm from forming. Or so they say.
The moon has always been a mysterious force. To Native Americans it held special meaning. The phases of the moon are still important to farmers when it comes to birthing, weaning, breeding, planting, and harvesting. Among paramedics and medical personnel today, the nights of a full moon are known to bring increased trouble and number of patients. Some people used to believe that looking at the new moon over the left shoulder was a harbinger of ill fortune. I doubt that!
Animals and birds sometimes signal ill omen. Take for instance….when a redheaded woodpecker pecks on the roof, a member of the family will die. Don’t let a buzzard cross your path or it’ll bring bad luck. Killing a wren or disturbing its nest will also cause bad luck. And some used to swear on their mama’s grave that if a centipede walks across any part of you, that part will rot to the bone and fall off. Yuck! I think I’ll stay away from those.
Some people think a dropped dishrag, an itchy nose, or a rooster crowing through a door or window means company is coming. My parents used to say that an itchy palm meant you were going to get some money. We never did that I know anything about.
And who hasn’t heard the one that if your ears ring it’s a sure bet someone is talking about you? That one is very common. Or if you spill salt, you throw some over your shoulder to ward off bad luck. Or breaking a mirror means you’ll have seven years of bad luck. Or the bad luck associated with the number 13. I’m not overly superstitious but I hate anything associated with the number 13. I can’t help it.
Then, there are some superstitions to bring good luck your way: nail a horseshoe over your door; carrying a rabbit’s foot, or wishing on a falling star before it disappears.
I think I have more than enough material for my story. Now, I’d like to hear from you. Are you superstitious? Do you know of any superstitions that you’d like to share?