Monday, March 29, 2010

Are You Superstitious...

Are you superstitious? Growing up in the South, superstitions have plagued my life. Do you believe in superstitions? Me, I don’t particularly think of myself as superstitious and typically scoff at them. I do, however, have a few that we practice in my home because my husband does believe in them. Which is truly crazy because this man does not believe in the supernatural, anything paranormal or in aliens from outer space. Oh, no, his faith lies in the facts of superstitions! His grandparents and his mother have spoonfed him superstitions all of his life.

So, here are a few superstitions that I could think of and how they got started. I found it interesting. I hope you will too.

1. We cannot wash clothes on New Year’s Day because if we do, my husband says we will wash someone out of our life. I scoffed at this one for many years, but typically we were too busy on New Year’s Day for me to actually test the theory and wash clothes. Not that I want to wash someone out of my life—well, maybe I can think of one or two, but I don’t think I get to pick the recipient. *snaps fingers* Too bad. I'm just kidding...a little. ;-) So, just my luck that the first New Year’s Day that I actually washed clothes, my husband’s grandmother died in October that year. That was in 1990. I haven’t washed again on New Year’s Day until this year, 2008. Forgetting my husband’s fanatical belief in this particular superstition, I put on a load of towels and it was in the rinse cycle by the time he realized what I was doing. He stopped the wash and muttered something about hopefully he had stopped it in time. Strangely enough, my girlfriend’s mother died on October 12th. Is there any validity to this superstition? Seriously, I don’t believe there is, but my husband is convinced. Me, I think it is just bad coincidence. A really bad, morbid coincidence. But…maybe, just maybe...I’ll refrain from washing clothes again on New Year’s Day just to be safe.

2. Spilling Salt and tossing it over your left shoulder. Salt once was very expensive and had many purposes. It was and still is used to purify. Salt has had many uses throughout history. In Greece, slaves were traded for salt. Hence, it’s where we get the saying, “He isn’t worth his salt.” Every grain of spilled salt was once believed to represent future tears in old English beliefs. If this were true, I would be in so much trouble. Spilled salt was believed to arouse enmity to the Germans. Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt because she disobeyed the angels by looking back at the city of Sodom as it was being destroyed. Jesus referred to his disciples as “the Salt of the Earth.” Matthew 5:13 states, “You are the salt of the earth…” Parallel verses to Matthew 5:13 are Mark 9:49-50 and Luke 14:34-35, wherein he is referring to Christians as “salt”. The famous painting by Leonardo DaVinci, The Last Supper, depicts Judas Escariot—Jesus’ betrayer that led to his crucifixion—has spilled some salt on the table, which was thought to be a portent of evil and bad luck. I could go on and on with all the salt superstitions I found and the numerous biblical references. By throwing a pinch of salt over our shoulder, it is being thrown straight into the Devil’s face who is hanging out over our left shoulder because it is the sinister side of our body. Again, this is not a superstition I adhere to. My husband…well, again, I’ve seen him toss salt over his shoulder more than once when salt has been spilled. He’s so freaky about it that he will toss salt over my shoulder for me when I spill it. I find this upsetting because he’s getting salt all over the floor or counter.

3. Weddings are wrought with superstitions, many of which I participated in because they are considered good luck and it’s become like a tradition. The bride is supposed to wear something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. There is supposed to be a penny in the bride’s shoe as well…this was most uncomfortable. The “something old” signified that the couple’s friends would stay with them; “something new” was for the couple’s future happiness, health and success; “something borrowed” was for the Bride’s family to give her something as a symbol of their love, but it must be returned to guarantee good fortune; and “something blue” was because the color represented fidelity and constancy. The penny in one’s shoe was supposed to bring the couple prosperity in their wedded years. At the bridal shower, I remember being told that the number of bows I broke while unwrapping the gifts indicated how many children we would have. It is a very old fertility rite to throw confetti, while throwing grains and/or nuts was considered life-giving seeds, which was probably also related to fertility.

4. Breaking a mirror is supposed to cause 7 years of bad luck. This superstition can be traced back to the Romans. However, many cultures believed that a mirror had the ability to possess a portion of the viewer’s soul. So if the viewer’s reflected image was distorted in any fashion, it could mean the viewer’s soul was corrupted. Worse yet, it was believed that a broken mirror reflected that the viewer’s soul was broken, as was the viewer’s health.

5. Walking under a ladder. In medieval times it was thought that a leaning ladder resembled the gallows, so in essence one was playing out their own execution by walking underneath it. Another explanation was that when a ladder is leaning up against a wall, it makes a triangular shape which represented the Holy Trinity. So by walking through the triangular shape, one was violating and desecrating God, and therefore, the violator would fall prey to Satan.

6. Various other superstitions that I won’t go into are, the horseshoe, the four-leaf clover, the wishbone, unlucky number 13, unlucky black cat, don’t open umbrellas indoors, making a wish when one blows out birthday candles, wishing on a shooting star, saying “break a leg” as opposed to saying “good luck” to actors/actresses, crossing fingers, rabbit’s foot, and the list goes on and on, but these were the ones I could think of. The last one I’ll mention is the one I hear from my boys, “Step on a crack and you’ll break your mother’s back.” I just want to know why we can’t break their father’s back instead of ours? I’m tired of getting the raw end of the deal. ;-)

Do you believe in superstitions? Tell me your superstitions, the ones you practice and believe in. Tell me it's a bunch of malarky, but tell me what you think.

I'll cross my fingers and hope everyone’s weekend is made of awesome!

(Note: Photos were snagged from Google Images and no copyright infringement was intended, but were used solely as visual aides.)

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