Old Wive’s Tales

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Some Fun with Old Wive’s Tales:

Opening an umbrella indoors
Let’s start with the easy one, opening an umbrella indoors.  I think we all have stopped or looked up to make sure we see the sky and not a different view before covering our head with an umbrella.  So, why all this worry?  Some people believe opening an umbrella inside takes away good fortune, while others think evil forces will be after them with bad luck because God made the umbrella possible to keep bad weather or the heat of the sun from our person.

old-wivesStumbling
I understand the superstitious who search for signs which either make something good or bad in their future.  Stumbling for the bride is a sign of bad luck and misfortune.  I don’t know if it was the choice of a husband, or just simply bad luck on her wedding day.  Think about stumbling, it is a sign of weakness and men who stumble take it seriously, thinking everyone saw him stumble and nothing will continue on the same path.  The superstitious tales concerning stumbling go way back to Napoleon’s horse when he stumbled on the way to the invasion of the east – although he continued with disaster.  The best way of thinking about stumbling, is you might break your neck.

The Rabbit’s Foot
I bet many of my readers carried a rabbit’s foot with them at some point for good luck, it certainly was a popular tale.  Not only did we carry a rabbit’s foot but many people believed if you brushed the skin of a child with a rabbit’s foot at birth it would be a good life.  Many people handed the actor or actress a rabbit’s foot when they appeared for the first time in public.  We believed the rabbit’s foot was a guarantee of good fortune.  On the other hand the loss of the rabbit’s foot could be a threat of disaster.  There is even a belief the rabbit’s foot is a secret power for the underworld and has the power to inforce the “Evil Eye.”  And one more notion – it was too be a woman who wanted to have children placed the rabbit’s foot on her foot – and a baby would come.

Giving a Lock of Your Hair
At first the meaning behind giving a lock of your hair to another meant you surrendered – this, based on an ancient dsuperstition which revealed your hair was one’s vital spirit.  If you had even one strand of hair from another you could influence that person.  Today we know saving a lock of one’s hair means love for that person.  As long ago, giving ones’ lock of hair was giving them your trust and love to remain together, forever.

Red Hair
The old wive’s tale about red hair goes way back in history – I am sure many more thoughts could be added to this – but when someone was sick doctors would visit the home and see red hair – blaming the illness on a virus because of the color of their hair, even if they had red cheeks –  which doctor’s from long ago believed it was a sign of ill blood.  This belief came about when illness was the result of sin, so in those times if you had red hair you were shunned.

Birthday Cakes and Candles
You would be surprised how far back the custom of the birthday cake brings us – Ancient Greeks would place what was known as honey cake on  altars, on the day of their birthday – and the Greeks placed what they called tapers on each cake.  The Germans of the middle ages, would have a cake ready the moment their child awoke, and the candles would stay lit for the entire day, it was the first time the number of candles represented the age of the child.  We still have birthday parties where an extra candle was for good luck, and the person has to make a wish before blowing out the candles – I think we added a second wish when it came to cutting the first slice of cake – perhaps we wanted to make sure we received one of the two wishes.

The Kiss
Well the kiss is either extremely good or fearful – but the beginning of the kiss goes back to the first gathering of people on this earth, those who love to search for reasons, they kissed one another because men and women mingled their souls, and as primitive men and women, they would learn from the air they took in with a kiss.  The Greek Poets call a kiss, paradise.  There was a time when the Japanese only kissed parents and children, and a time when the Chinese thought a kiss suggested cannibalism.  People believe the kiss began on the face, and after many years ended up on the lips.  Touching the face like the Eskimos, rubbing noses, was kissing.  I have even heard of Indian Tribes who would not kiss, but tell the squaw, smell me, instead of giving me a kiss.   I heard the kiss began as a sign of love with infants, recalling how mothers tested the food in their own mouth before giving it to their child.

I have much more to share with you – and I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on these few – and perhaps if you enjoy the history of a wive’s tale I shall continue to share.

2 Comments
  1. joycewhite says

    Sounds like a very interesting book in the making Nancy. Enjoyed very much. It is so interesting how writers look at the world with colorful lenses finding enjoyment in such simple things as smelling and a lock of hair. All subjects beg for poetry, don’t you think? Joyce

  2. Nancy Duci Denofio says

    Yes I do, that is why whatever we see or hear, past or present it is life, life catches the eye of the beholder, and in many cases we are the one’s who can relate to a story, poem, prose piece, screen play, etc., we are the living proof that the truth can become fiction but the truth wins out, ideas come from somewhere, it’s a matter of where which declares them poetry, prose, fiction, non fiction. And, as you probably have guessed I love the truth, and telling people about a world they may have forgotten, even if they had no idea where kissing came from. LOL Thanks Joyce.

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