A few years ago, a friend told me about a farmer from Alabama who chastised his children if they walked on his shadow while following him back to the house after a hard day’s work in the fields.
He believed with much conviction that their walking on his shadow would give him a headache. I’m not sure whether there was a correlation between the two. It seems like the headache most likely came from the hard day’s work rather than from their tromping on his shadow.
Superstitions carry a great deal of weight with some folks. Some hide their beliefs not wanting people to know they’ve fallen for such irrational thinking, but will privately favor a lucky shirt or lucky number. Others occasionally go along with such thoughts just because they think it won’t hurt.
Weddings are the perfect example. Most brides adhere to the something old, new, borrowed and blue tradition. A multitude of superstitions accompany weddings. Examples include if the groom steps on the bride’s gown during the ceremony she’ll be the one to rule the roost and if the couple sees each other before the ceremony on their wedding day they’ll be cursed with bad luck.
There’s also triskaidekaphobia or fear of the number 13. Many high-rise buildings lack a 13th floor and passenger airplanes often don’t have a 13th row.
Country singer Randy Travis recorded a hit song out of a string of superstitions while singing about getting over a love affair in “Get You Out of My Bones.” He promised to “bury her jacket in his backyard” and “carry her picture in his shoe while he keeps walking until the hurting stops.”
Dozens of superstitions exist and they vary from culture to culture. Here are a few I’ve heard:
– Don’t start something on Friday that you can’t finish.
– Don’t tell dreams before breakfast or they will come true.
– It’s bad luck to walk with one shoe on and one shoe off.
– Don’t let anyone sweep underneath your feet or you’ll never get married.
– Don’t walk under a ladder. It’s bad luck.
– If you break a mirror, you’ll have seven years bad luck.
– Don’t wear a dead man’s shoes.
– Don’t open an umbrella while indoors.
– Don’t sweep out the door after dark.
– If you wash clothes on New Year’s Day you will wash someone out of your family.
– If a black cat crosses your path, you’ll have bad luck.
– Step on a crack and you’ll break your mama’s back.
– A whistling woman and a crowing hen will come to some bad end.
– If a rooster crows after nightfall you will hear about a death.
– Knock on wood if you want something you say to remain true.
– If your nose itches somebody is coming.
– If it rains before seven, the sun will shine before eleven.
* Photo courtesy of theguardian.com
Award-winning journalist Nancy Jo Maples has been writing about Mississippi people and places for more than 30 years. Contact her at [email protected].