Superstitions and Customs – The Poetry of Civiliations Culture

Author Unknown

A New Year…and a New Decade. What promise a new year can hold!

The blank pages of a calendar or a personal diary hold a fascination for us all. What will the months bring? People through the ages have used many methods to try to peer through the curtains shrouding the future. Predictions abound at this time of the year along with resolutions. Before you shrug off the notion of superstition, remember Margaret Mead, the anthropologist said, “Superstition has been a part of every civilization’s culture.” Even such heroes as Napoleon believed firmly that mysterious powers controlled his destiny. Napoleon had a scarab he wore always until his marriage to Marie Louise of Austria. he gave the scarab to the person who arranged the marriage. His downfall began almost immediately afterward. He believed he gave his good luck away with the scarab.

There are many customs and superstitions associated with the New Year and New Year’s Day. Eating cabbage for money and black-eyed peas for luck is an established Southern custom. The New Year’s resolution is a universal tradition. Wiping the slate clean, paying old debts, returning all borrowed items and letting the past be forgotten are all ancient ideas.

New Year’s superstitions are numerous. Here are a few:

  • Open the window a few minutes before midnight to let the bad luck out and the good luck in.
  • Walk around your house three times to ensure good luck for the coming year.
  • It’s bad luck to let a fire go out before midnight.
  • Create a lot of noise to chase all evil spirits out of the house at midnight.
  • If you don’t keep coins in your pocket on New York’s Day, you will be poor all year.
  • Never remove anything from the house on New Year’s Day.
  • Never give a gift on New Year’s Day, you will give your good luck away.
  • Whatever you do on New Year’s Day, remember you will do all year long.

To keep you safe, happy and free from strife in the New Year, here are a few of the old superstitions.

BLACK CAT

Don’t let a black cat cross your path, it is however good luck if a black cat comes to your house. In England it is considered good luck for a black cat to cross your path, and a white cat is considered unlucky.

BREAD

It is bad luck to cut the bread from both ends, but good luck to dream of bread. When two people reach for the same slice of bread, company is coming. The heel of the loaf is always given to a member of the family because it means good luck.

HATS

A hat on the table or a bed is bad luck and will cause a fight in the house. For good luck put a hat front to back, it changes the order of things and wards off back luck. Jockeys and baseball players do it. Remember, wearing a hat indoors causes a headache.

HORSESHOES

Horseshoes hung on a house or barn mean good luck…if you find the horseshoe, be certain to hang the shoe with the ends up to keep the good luck, if the ends are pointed down the luck will run out.

KNIFE AND FORK

Knife falls, gentlemen calls, fork falls, lady calls. A dropped knife means bad luck.

MIRROR

To break a mirror means seven years bad luck. But to break the spell, bury the pieces of broken glass.

MONEY

Finding a penny means good luck. Turning pieces of silver at the time of a new moon will ensure good luck.

MOVING

A good luck charm is essential when moving into a new home.

SNEEZING

Gesundheit! Everyone says it when someone sneezes. One is thought to be at the closest point to death at the time of a sneeze.

THIRTEEN AT THE TABLE

There were thirteen at the Last Supper with Judas being the thirteenth person. The current superstition is that when thirteen are at a table one will die before the end of the year. But if all join hands and rise from the table at the same time the bad luck can be avoided.

WISHBONES

To break a wish bone and get the larger end of the bone means you will get your wish.

SINGING

If you sing before seven, you will cry before eleven.

THE WEATHER

  • Predicting the weather has always been done by those whose lives were most affected by it. An old proverb about the weather that is still relied on by men of the sea is:  Sky red in the morning; is a sailor’s warning; Sky red at night, is the sailor’s delight.
  • A ring around the moon is a certain sigh of rain.
  • If a rainbow is seen in the west, more rain will follow.
  • The croaking of frogs means rain is on the way.
  • Birds, especially crows, flying in large flocks foretell a change in the weather.
  • Even the dew can give an indication of weather to come. When the dew is on the grass, rain will not come to pass; when grass is dry at morning light, look for rain before the night.

Do you believe in not walking under a ladder, never going back for something forgotten, always throw salt over your shoulder and rad your horoscope each morning? If you do all these things or just some of them, you are in good company. Most people believe as Goethe did, that superstitions are the poetry of life.

A superstition is then a belief that helps make life a bit easier. And what’s so terrible about that?

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