Superstitions are part of the Newfoundland culture. The one person who I remember as being very superstitious was my darling grandmother, ‘Nan.’ We all dearly loved this woman, she had the capacity to make each and everyone of her grandchildren feel very special.
When Nan would come to town (City of St. John’s) for her visits, the big outings for her involved: shopping downtown (Water Street) St. John’s; in the Avalon Mall; the K-Marts, Zellers, Pipers or Bi-ways and any other shopping outlet that existed between point A and point B. So needless to say, when we travelled around the city shopping with Nan or on occasions when she came to visit us in our homes, there would be numerous opportunities when Nan would feel the need to protect us from taking unwarranted risks as she would remind us:
- Don’t walk under that ladder; you know it’s bad luck to walk under ladders
- Don’t open that umbrella indoors, you will attract bad luck if you open that umbrella in here
- We must remember which door we came in because that is the one we will be leaving through. It did not matter that the word ‘entrance’ was posted on that particular door.
- You will want to be nice to the crows, if not, they will remember and will bring you bad luck. Crows are very smart animals you know.
- Black cats crossing your path brings bad luck.
- Be careful with your mirror, you know if you break it you will have 7 years of bad luck.
- Best not to plan any trips on Friday the 13th because you don’t want to attract bad luck.
- Strangers are coming…you forgot to put the top on your teapot.
- Don’t worry about rain on your wedding day; while some folks say it is bad luck your grandfather and I were married in the middle of a winter’s storm and we have had a good marriage (she shared this one with me as torrential rains were falling on my wedding day)
- Hang a set of rosary beads on the clothesline if you are looking for good weather
- You don’t want to be playing cards or doing laundry on the lord’s day (Sundays)
- Red sky in the morning sailors take warning, red sky at night sailors delight. Given my grandfather was a fisherman, this is one we heard regularly.
- A horse shoe will bring you good luck as do four leaf clovers. You would often find horseshoes hung on people’s properties such as their fences or doors.
- Don’t cross your fork over your knife or else there may be a fight
I claim to not be superstitions as I chose not to want to deal with the associated fears and my perceived limitations and restrictions. I did however develop a healthy respect and admiration for:
- the crow upon learning how intelligent these creatures truly are
- Ashes, our neighbours black cat as she deals with the little unwanted critters that exist in our neighbourhood as in many others around these parts
- Pop’s innate abilities to read and to rely upon nature’s signs as he and Nan planned their day’s activities whether they involved fishing on the open ocean in small fishing boats, tending to their vegetable garden, taking care of their animals, delivering mail with a team of dogs and a sleigh or by boat or working with the horse and sleigh, drying salt fish on fish flakes, cutting wood or carrying water from the well.
Talk about hard working people!
I felt like sharing some fond memories of times spent with dear grandparents who always had their loved ones’ best interests at heart. For my extended family, December month is a month that is filled with celebrations of births, anniversaries of weddings as well as deaths.
P. S. Why not share the superstitions that exist in your culture? Please share them in the Reply/Comments space below…