Old Wives’ Tales Around the House

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I love The Farmer’s Almanac and have both an old version and I a newer one.  I enjoy reading about old wives’ tales around the house from days gone by and wanted to share some of them with you. I took this information from The Old Farmer’s Almanac.  Enjoy!

  • Never give a knife as a housewarming present, or your new neighbor will become an enemy. I grew up on a version of this.  In Texas we were told never to give a knife to anybody under any circumstances; so, we always did the next thing.
  • If you give a steel blade to a friend make the recipient pay you a penny to avoid cutting the friendship
  • When you move to a new house, always enter first with a loaf of bread and a new broom. Never bring an old broom into the house.  I never heard of this and only moved twice since we married 52 years ago and I always brought my old broom.  Hum?  Fact or fiction?  We’ve had a wonderful life in both house.

  • Never walk under a ladder, which is Satan’s territory. If you do, cross your fingers or make the sign of the fig (closed fist, with thumb between index and middle fingers.)  I knew never to walk under a ladder because it’d bring you bad luck, but never knew the name for the sign of the fig, which I think we all have used at one time or another.
  • To protect your house from lightning, gather hazel tree branches on Palm Sunday and keep them in water. How many of you have a hazel tree or can even get branches?  Not in my neighborhood.
  • To banish serpents and venomous creatures from the room, scatter Solomon’s seal on the floor. I have two issues with this.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a serpent or venomous creature in our house and I sure don’t know what Solomon’s seal is.  Do any of you?
  • Never pound a nail after sundown or you will wake the tree gods. Interesting???
  • Nail an evergreen branch to new rafters to bring good luck. An empty hornets’ nest, hung high, also will bring good luck to a house of any age. Well, here in Texas, we like to hang a horseshoe over the door for good luck.
  • Never carry a hoe into the house. If you do by mistake, carry it out again, walking backward to avoid bad luck.

I thought this had a bunch a fun superstitions and old wives’ tales from around the house.  There are many more takes about the house and home, but are they fact or fiction?  Often only time will tell.

Do you have a superstition you want to share?

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52 thoughts on “Old Wives’ Tales Around the House”

  1. Ummm a superstition I’ve heard is don’t open an umbrella inside your home. I am not superstitious but it’s one superstition I’ve heard. Thanks for the fun post! 😀

  2. If you spill salt throw it over your shoulders for good luck.
    Ha ha!! Then clean up your mess! That one always made me cringe, just the thought of salt all over the floor.
    Another one I heard. Alway stir cake batter in one direction or the cake won’t rise.
    I hope you’re doing well My Dear, Texan Friend.
    Maybe when all this mess of 2020 is over, we can all meet up and see one another. Have a great Tuesday. Kansas hugs to you.

    • Hi my sweet Kansas friend. Yes, salt is one I grew up with, but I never thought about the mess because I guess my floor always had “something” on it that needed sweeping up. LOL I’ve never heard of the cake batter but that explains a lot to me as to why sometimes my cakes “fall”. LOL By all means, when this mess is over we all plan to get together for a day. Take care of yourself and have a wonderful Tuesday. Many blessings coming your way from one of your Texas friends.

  3. Hello Phyliss, I enjoyed your article. I have heard about walking under the stairs but never knew a “remedy” for doing it. Lol The others I had never heard of. I have a few superstitions that I can think of. Black cat walking in your path, breaking a mirror brings 7 yrs of bad luck. Going over railroad tracks in a car your should lift your feet. Driving past a cemetery you should hold your breath. I don’t remember the reasons for most of these but I remember the superstition. Lol ?

    Have a beautiful day!

    • Hi Dale, so good to hear from you. The ladder and black cat, along with breaking a mirror are superstitions I grew up with. I did know about the lifting your feet, but had forgotten about it because it sure makes it hard when you’re driving to lift your feet when you’re going across six sets of tracks in some places in this part of the country. Guess that’s why I lost thought of it. The holding your breath driving past a cemetery is a new one for me. I’ll have to look it up. Thanks for stopping by and leaving some fantastic additions to the ones I found. Have a wonderful day. Hugs from Texas, Phyliss

    • Good morning Kathy. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Yes, breaking a mirror is one superstition I grew up with, so I’m very careful with one. LOL Hope you have a wonderful day. Many blessings and hugs, Phyliss

  4. I always worry when I break a mirror.. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why I have had so much bad luck lately. I never open an umbrella in the house either.

    • Hi Janine, hope all is well with you and yours. Yes, I never, never open an umbrella in the house. Glad I have a covered veranda, so I don’t have to go out in the rain before I open mine. Frankly, I rarely use an umbrella. I mostly just cover my hair or let it get wet, just depending on what I’m doing. Hope you have a wonderful Tuesday. Big hugs from Texas, P

  5. Of course we’ve all heard the one about a black cat crossing the road , but a few months ago Don was driving down main street . I noticed a cat up ahead but didn’t really think much about it. WELl , next thing I know he is turning down side streets working his way back to Main Street. I’m confused what he’s doing so he informed me even though he’s not superstitious he doesn’t push the black cat theory. I laughed so hard as to know him you would of been shocked ?

    • Hi Quilt Lady. Good to hear from you. As I’ve already said, I totally agree with both not walking under a ladder or opening an umbrella in the house. Hope you have a wonderful evening. Hugs, Phyliss

  6. Good morning! This blog made me think of when we were kids and playing game/tale of “Step on a crack, you break your mother’s back.” Then the old wives tale of throwing a little salt over your left shoulder to have good luck and what your cooking to turn out great! I’ve never heard of most of these old wives tales!

    • Hi Miss Stephanie. So good to hear from you. I’d totally forgotten the “Step on a crack and break your mother’s back”. That was big in my day and I still think about it periodically. Hope you have a wonderful rest of the day. Hugs, Phyliss

    • Hi Debra, so good to hear from you. I love the Almanac, too. I know there are still folks who plan events and plant crops, etc. by the Almanac, but I don’t. Hope you have a great day and thanks for sharing. Big Hugs, Phyliss

  7. The few things I remember were mentioned. I’m not superstitious, though, and while I haven’t deliberately broken a mirror, I have done a few other things, like opening an umbrella in the house. I like to read Farmer’s Almanac’s. You never know what you might find there!

    • Hi Trudy, so good to hear from you. I’m like you, I’m not truly superstitious, yet if I think about it I don’t do some of the ol’ superstitious things like you mention. I do enjoy the Almanac, too. Hope you have a pleasant day. Hugs, Phyliss

  8. I still have the lucky penny that was in my shoe when I got married–almost 20 years ago. Does that count?

    • Hi Carrie, good to hear from you. It sure does count. I know you’ve had a wonderful 20 years! Congrats! I’m coming up to 54 years with the same ol’ guy. Now that you mention it, I have a coin bag in my big purse that is heaping full of “lucky” things I’ve been given and I always have it with me. I wouldn’t have thought about that being superstition, but I guess it is. I love every little thing in it. Thanks for the reminder. I hope you have a wonderful day. Hugs, Phyliss

  9. Most of the ones I know have been mentioned. What I think is funny is in watching Apollo 13 (the movie) and reading Jim Lovell’s autobiography, they tried to prove that all the superstitions were silly old wives’ tales. Then they had all those problems during their mission. Makes you think a bit.
    Also, probably the most superstitious people I have ever met are aviators. My dad was in the Air Force when I was growing up. He always shaved his face in the exact same pattern because if you changed any aspect of your morning routine, you’d bring bad luck on yourself and your squadron.

    • Hi Jess, good to hear from you. I didn’t think about the Apollo 13 movie, but you are so right. It does give one food for thought. Look at Area 54 in New Mexico, for one. My daddy was also a “fly boy” as they were called in his day. I know my husband, who was in the military, has a routine, but I never knew why. Interesting. I’m gonna ask him and see if he’ll tell me the truth or brush it off. Hope you have a wonderful day. Hugs, Phyliss

  10. Welcome today. I like the comments at the end of the post. I have always been fascinated by superstitions and wives tales. Not really sure why. I have heard of throwing salt behind you to stop the evil spirits. As kids we used to do this all around the farm until mom caught us. Yah we wasted a lot of salt LOL We really were just having fun. LOL
    quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

    • Hi Lori, so good to hear from you. Thanks for leaving your comments. I bet your mama was frustrated with you and your siblings, not for tossing the salt around but what it can do to vegetables or things in the garden. Fun is the name of the game, if we don’t harm anything with it. I think there’s a ton of people interested in superstitions and obviously you are one of them. Take care and I hope you have a beautiful day and evening. Hugs, Phyliss

  11. Never step on a crack or you can break your back. Ive never heard of any of them. Thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Charlene, good to hear from you. Yes, the don’t step on a crack is as old as … well, I am plus many, many years. Loved to play it as a youngster. I’m so pleased you enjoyed my blog. Hope you and yours have a wonderful day. Hugs, Phyliss

    • Hi Caryl, so glad you left a message. Thanks for the pat on the back, I’m thrilled you enjoyed the blog and it was a fun one. I enjoyed writing it … especially compiling the various superstitions. Hope you have a wonderful day. Hugs, Phyliss

    • Hi our precious Laura. Pleased you left a comment. I didn’t know about the hoe either, but don’t recall particularly carrying one in the house but bet I did. We’ve lived in the same house for a long time, so I’m sure if I’d done any hoeing in the front yard flower beds, I would have brought the hoe in and out of the front door to the garage. Hum, maybe that’s something I need to think about. Our internet has been down (plus I have a lot of trouble with mine anyway), so apologize for being so late in getting your comment answered. Hope you and yours have a wonderful evening. Big hugs, fellow Filly.

  12. We knock on wood in a lighthearted manner to avoid tempting fate. It’s done as a joke when we say things like, “It never rains when we come here” or “He makes a field goal every time he kicks.”

    • Hi Cheryl. Good to hear from you. Oh yes, that’s a big one for me and I do it all of the time; especially when I say something like “I hope it doesn’t happen but….” then I knock lightly on my head or a piece of wood which isn’t much different than my head! I hope you and yours have a great day. Hugs, PhylissI

  13. I have heard of a few of those and some of what other readers have posted, but some are definitely new to me… nothing different comes to mind for me.

    • Hi Colleen, so happy to hear from you. This was a fun blog to research and write and I’ve truly enjoyed the ones our readers have added. I bet you’ll think of something later. Hope you and yours have a wonderful day. A big hugs from Texas, Phyliss

    • Hi Jerri. Good to hear from you. I didn’t look it up on the Internet, but I bet you are right. Salt would typically keep rodents out today, so why wouldn’t it be a superstition way back then to keep bad things out? Hum, I had to stop and look it up in my huge (but old) Webster’s and Solomon means “a wise man….sage”. Hum, of course it’s from the Bible, but I wonder if it’s the herb sage? Interesting. Thanks for giving me something to think about. Hope you and yours have a wonderful day. Hugs from Texas, Phyliss

  14. Unfortunately I have had baby bull snakes in our house…..not nice and very scary to our then 9 year old daughter. We never figured out how they got in but there was a nest in the roses in front of our house. I think solomon seal is a wild herb that grows in moist shady areas in the northeast. I know I have heard of it but don’t really know what it looks like.

    • Hi Alice, so good to hear from you. Well, I only wish I’d read your blog before I answered Jerri’s because you are probably correct. Thanks! Your story about the baby snakes brought back memories. We had a bush next to our front door when our girls who now have adult children, not to tell my age LOL, and we had several snakes who entwined themselves up in the bush. Of course they scared the heck out of the girls. Now I’m not sure a bull snake, baby or not would be good. Ours were old fashioned grass snakes, so we left them alone. If they’d been rattlesnakes, they’d been short lived for sure. Hope you have a wonderful evening and thanks for the info. Now I’ve got to check it out for myself. Big hugs, Phyliss

  15. I am not superstitious but know many sayings from my grandmother who lived with us and said them in Yiddish. Theya re very popular and still used today.

    • Hi Laini, good to hear from you. What wonderful memories. I know many of my sayings came from my own Granny and in Texas we use them all of the time … or at least I do. I’d love to know some of the unusual ones from your own grandmother. I bet they are really cool. Hope you and yours have a wonderful day. A big Texas hug, Phyliss

  16. Thanks for this most interesting post. I liked reading the different sayings. They bring back memories which my mother used to use very often and pertained to life.

    • Hi Ellie, so good to hear from you. Thank you, I’m pleased you enjoyed the post. Like you, as I researched, they brought back so many memories. I couldn’t use all of them, but might well do another blog down the road with some you all told me about that I’d forgotten. Again, thanks and I hope you and yours have a wonderful evening. Hugs, Phyliss

  17. Farmer’s Almanac would be interesting since many feel it is accurate and true. I enjoy phrases which I do use a great deal and no one understands them at all. When I was growing up they were popular but nowadays if I say those cute and different phrases they look at me as if I am from Mars.

    • Hi Annie, good to hear from you. Oh I’m just like you, even my grandkids, even the older ones, look at me at times wondering what in the heck I mean. However, all but two were born in Texas and all lived or still live here now, so they know them. Yes, I used one modern phrase in this whole blog and it was “cool” which today probably doesn’t even mean what it did in the 60′! I know so many word meanings have changed over the years, but at my age I just fall back on those I know and have used for a lot of years. Mama was from the South and Daddy from the North, so I got a good family mixture of phrases; however, Daddy didn’t used the same verbiage as Mama did. Bless their hearts. Hope you have a wonderful evening. Hugs, Phyliss
      Proofreading this I realized I used a very much Southern term … “Bless their Hearts”!

  18. My mama always told us never to lay a hat on the bed, that it was bad luck. I never knew why. There’s something about it bringing death into the house. She never would let us jump on the bed either but that might’ve been because it messes the covers up.

  19. I have heard to put a broom in back of a door when a visitor or neighbor you don’t care for their company much , you put the door behind the door so that they will not stay for very long.

  20. I heard never give a wallet or a purse empty at least always put a $1 in it because if you don’t the person will always be broke. I have heard the thing about not giving knives as gifts. Never walk with one shoe on and one off that will cause a person to have bad luck

  21. Some interesting superstitions here. I have heard of maybe half of them. I have never believed in them or followed them. There is a superstition that mirrors must be covered after the death of a person in the family. (Not to be confused with the religious tradition of doing so.) It is believed that the departing soul leaves a void in this world and demons and evil spirits will try to fill the void. If you look into the mirror you may see them lurking behind you and let them in.
    Another one involving a mirror that I heard was if you stare at yourself long enough you will see the devil looking back at you. A reference to the evils of vanity.
    Another one was to make sure you cover your mouth when you yawn. Yawning, you open wide enough for the devil or other evil spirit to enter your body. Interesting, but not a bad idea anyway. No one want to see your tonsils anyway.
    Stay safe and healthy.

  22. Solomon’s seal is a shade plant that has little white flowers that look like bells on an arched stem.
    Related to the Lillies Of The Valley.

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