It’s my thought that it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to adhering to superstitions that were passed down to Granny and she passed down to me. I first heard the following 10 folklore beliefs in my early childhood when I spent time with my grandmother who was born in England.
Do you have an itchy nose? Oh, dear, you’ll likely be kissed by a fool or made mad. Does one follow the other? I never thought to ask Granny.
Do you have itchy feet? You have something to look forward to because you’re going on strange ground. Of course, if you’re a homebody, the prospect of heading off to somewhere you’ve never been before probably doesn’t excite you.
Do your ears ever burn? That tingling indicates that someone is talking about you! Let’s hope they’re saying only good things.
Does the palm of your hand tickle? If it’s the left hand, you’re likely to pay money out but unexpected funds are coming in soon if it’s your right hand.
Has a prickle ever run down your spine that made you shiver for no apparent reason? Sorry to say but someone is walking over your grave and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Avoid bad luck by waiting to turn the page on a calendar until after the first day of a new week or month. Granny would scold us not to tempt fate if we started to hang a new calendar before New Year’s Day, for example.
One day when I came up behind Granny in her little kitchen, she showered me with salt without turning around. “Granny,” I said, “what are you doing?” Granny said she didn’t know I was behind her and then went on to patiently explain that she had spilled salt on the counter. To keep from having bad luck, she tossed some over her shoulder. Satisfied with Granny’s answer, I fetched the dustpan and broom to help her clean it up.
According to Granny, to accidentally put on a piece of clothing inside out or backwards would bring good luck. That’s a positive thought rather than berating oneself for not watching what you’re doing.
Dropping a knife foretold of the impending visit of an expected male visitor. Imagine the family’s pleasant anticipation that they would soon welcome company! This belief certainly must have originated before we casually announced our plans to drop in by tapping a name in our cell phone contact list.
Of course, many readers will be familiar that letting a black cat cross your path is bad luck. However, that superstition never worried Granny. Since we had a number of black cats years ago, staying out of their way would have been next to impossible. I recall that when Granny swept behind Mother’s wood-burning cookstove every morning, any cat curled up there was soon on its way out the back door no matter what color of fur it had.
Perhaps that superstition should have been reworded to warn black cats to watch out for Granny!
Did Granny really believe in the superstitions she shared? I don’t know but just in case, I won’t be putting up my 2022 wall calendar until Sat., Jan. 1.
So, friends, have superstitions thrived in your family? I’m all ears (and yes, they are burning).
Oh, by the way, another post that mentions Granny is Christmas in Her Heart.
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Chef Rachel Ray tosses salt over her shoulder all the time,
Thanks, Jo Lynn!
I enjoyed this quick read, making me think of a few superstitions when I was growing up, including not walking under a ladder!
That’s right, Anne! We can’t be too careful…
We had many of the same superstitions in our house, growing up in a Scottish – English household.
Could you please tell us about ‘first footing’? I remember when I had the honor of being involved in that tradition!
Always include money if you give a wallet as a gift so the receiver will always have funds
Don’t give knives as a wedding gift as it means you want to sever the husband and wife relationship
If two people use the same towel at the same time to dry dishes their friendship will fail
And my favorite…if a young girl is serving slices of cake they must be served upright-if they fall on their side the girl will never be married
Oh, Jan, I love these! Thank you so much for sharing. Your favorite is a delicious belief!
First footing was a tradition in our family as my father’s family was from Scotland. As he was one of 12, it would be an all night affair, going from one house to the next and of course, lots of Scotch flowing.
First flooring means that the first person to enter the house on New Year’s Day (or Hogmanay as it is known in Scotland) brings good fortune for the coming year.
Most of the folklore describes the first-foot as a tall, dark-haired man, and in some places women and.fair-haired men are considered unlucky.
The first footer. would traditionally arrive bearing gifts to bring good fortune and health to the home. Gifts generally took the form of a coin, shortbread or something edible, a lump of coal or wood for the fire and a drink of whisky to represent prosperity, food, warmth and cheer.
Sadly, the family is so widespread, that this has fallen by the wayside. But, tradition also says we can first foot ourselves, so I have my coin and lump of coal ready each year
Wonderful memory, Janice! Thanks so much for sharing this Scottish ritual.
In Germany you dare not celebrate a birthday early. You may celebrate late but never early. We had more than one “it’s not your birthday” celebrations when we had to celebrate early. That was ok.
What an interesting superstition, Carolyn! Thanks for sharing it.
That’s interesting, Carolyn. My mom would say that it was extremely bad luck to celebrate a birthday before the actual day. Always after. Her mother came from a German-American family, so that might explain that!
It’s interesting that your mother also advised against celebrating birthdays early! Thanks for sharing that memory, Carol.
If the first norther is dry, you will have a dry winter,
If it thunders in February, count 40 days and there will be a freeze.
If it thunders and lightnings in January, you will have rain for the next six weeks.
If the cattle and the animals, cats and dogs, have a thick coat, prepare for a cold winter.
Catherine, these ‘weather warnings’ are fascinating! I’m going to pay attention to thunder and lightning in January and February from now on. Thanks for sharing.
Wow! From you and others I have learned a lot more superstitions than I knew existed!! And I read Granny’s Christmas story with tears in my eyes!
Thanks for reading, Brenda!
As always…a great read. I look forward to these. Thank you.
I appreciate your positive feedback, Gesine!
Elaine, my grandmother had superstitions of her own: when your nose itched you were going to have company and never place a hat on the bed as it would bring bad luck. She believed as your granny on numbers 2-10.
I love these superstitious today and always try to follow them.
Isn’t that interesting? I had forgotten about putting a hat on a bed being a harbinger of bad luck. It seems to me there was something about shoes on a table, but I can’t quite remember it. I agree – these old beliefs are fun especially when they remind us of dear people whose memories stay in our hearts.
One time I was at a gathering and the former “Sheriff Jim’ came in with his big “Stetson” hat. As is the custom, one of the ladies took his hat and placed it on top of a nearby bed. Soon afterward there was a comment made by another lady”‘Remove that hat from the bed b/c that was bad luck”. Also heard from another lady present “it was also a way in former times that lice were spread”, I guess from hat to bed.
Thanks for sharing this memory, Dr. Ebel. It makes sense that a lot of superstitions were based on actual occurrences.