Grandma’s luck was in jelly jars
of four leaf clovers
on window sills.
Not in blackberry pies
with syrupy sodden bottoms
and charred crusts.
Nor in “Rock of Ages,” old piano
with scarred keys
Not in slippered feet, falling hose
fugitive sidewalk fowl.
No, Grandma’s luck was in jelly jars
of four leaf clovers
on window sills.
- Gloria Alden
Recently when I delivered Mobile Meals to an elderly lady with dementia, I spent some time talking with her daughter, too. I’d had the elderly woman a few years back, but she’d stopped getting meals. I’d enjoyed spending time with her then and was glad I was delivering to her again. While her daughter and I were visiting, and catching up on local news, she said she’d heard I’d found a body in my woods and wanted the details so I told her. Later she asked me if I had cardinals at my place. I told her I did since I feed the birds. She said, “You know cardinals are a messenger from God and you will be having good news.” I’m not holding my breath waiting for that.
In college I took a class on Folklore. Superstitions were one of the topics covered. Rather than read the whole chapter on it, I went to Wikipedia which said; “It’s the belief in supernatural causality, that one event causes another without any natural process linking the two events – such as astrology and certain aspects linked to religion, like omens, witchcraft and prophecies, that contradict natural science.
Superstition has been around since ancient times, and who knows maybe as early as cavemen days. One would think that in today’s more enlightened times that superstition would be a thing of the past, but it isn’t. Following are some common superstitions:
Friday the thirteenth is an unlucky day. Even if you forget it’s Friday the 13th?
A rabbit’s foot brings good luck. Certainly not for the rabbit!
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Bronson Alcott believed that, and they are good for you, because they add fiber to your diet and that gives you regularity.
To find a four-leaf clover is to find good luck. My grandmother certainly believed that. She was very good at finding them on her morning walks.
If you walk under a ladder you will have bad luck. That makes sense. It can be dangerous if you’re not careful, and even more so if someone is on it. A bucket of paint could really hurt someone, or a dropped hammer. And what about the poor guy or gal on the ladder if you cause him/her to fall?
If a black cat crosses your path you will have bad luck. Unfortunately, too many people believe this making it hard for shelters to find homes for black cats.
To break a mirror will bring you seven years bad luck. I don’t believe that at all, although I don’t remember ever breaking a mirror, either.
To open an umbrella in a house is to bring bad luck. Does it ever rain inside a house?
To find a horseshoe brings good luck. If you’re going to hang it, make sure it’s not with the opening down, because then all your luck will pour out.
Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Is there anyone who didn’t quote that as a child while trying to avoid cracks? If true, there’d be a lot of mothers with broken backs from running kids.
Garlic protects from evil spirits and vampires. Since I don’t believe in either, I don’t have to hang it around my neck.
If you blow out all of the candles on your birthday cake with the first breath you will get whatever your wish for. Now that’s one that’s still practiced. I wonder if kids still believe that.
Eating fish makes you smart. I never heard that before, but I know they’re good for you and everyone is now advised to include fish in their diet.
A cricket in the house brings good luck. It does? All I know is they can be annoying at night.
It’s bad luck to sleep on the table. That one made me laugh. I can’t imagine sleeping there.
A bird that comes in your window brings bad luck. Now I did hear that from one of my aunts. Apparently a bird flew in the house shortly after my grandmother delivered premature twins, and they died. I still don’t think the bird had anything to do with it.
When a dog howls, death is near. That is something used in old mysteries, isn’t it? It could just be the dog is lonely.
Animals talk at midnight on Christmas Eve. I’ve never bothered to check that out, although one of my aunts insisted she heard a three-legged sheep in her nativity set bleat. Not sure how the one leg got broken. So on Christmas night, all her nieces and nephews looked at the little sheep in awe hoping it would bleat again. Never herd it.
If you shiver, someone is casting a shadow over your grave? Before you’re dead you have a grave? What about maybe it’s just that you’re cold and not dressed warm enough?
Washing a car will bring rain. Sometimes it does seem that way, although I don’t believe it.
A cat will try to take the breath from a baby. If a cat crawls into a crib with a baby, it’s to seek warmth and comfort in my opinion.
A forked branch, held with a fork in each hand, will dip and point when it passes over water. I tried this as a teenager, and if it’s something like a willow branch, it actually does work. Totally weird, but it did when I held it over puddles or areas where the ground was saturated. It even split the thin bark on the branch as it pulled to point down. In fact, I’ve heard there’s a scientific basis for that. Thanks, Jim. I checked it out.
The long list that these superstitions came from are only a few from what I downloaded from Superstition Bash – CSI, which you can find online by Googling that.
I don’t consider myself superstitious. I don’t believe bad things happen in threes. Sometimes when everything seems to be going well, I wonder when something bad will happen, but that’s just the way life goes, isn’t it? It has nothing to do with ladders, black cats, a bird flying into a house, or broken mirrors, and a cricket in my house won’t keep bad things from happening.
Do you have any superstitions?
What are ones you’ve heard of that I haven’t listed?