Wednesday, June 13, 2012

19th Century Sayings & Folklore

Below are just a few quotes of folklore from Memoirs of the American Folklore Society ©1899 Enjoy!

A neighborhood story that I remember in northern Ohio told how a white dove one day flew into a room. The person who saw the bird afterwards learned that at the very hour a near relative had died far away.

In Scotland a turtle-dove seen on a wedding day is a good omen.

The howling of a dog is a death-warning. It is believed that a dog howls because he sees the devil contending with guardian angels for the possession of a departing soul, or because the devil has triumphed and the soul is lost.

When a cock crows in an untimely part of the night, some people think that it is a sure omen of a fire either from his own house or near his neighborhood. Children in such a family are strictly forbidden to imitate the crowing of a cock after dark.

A black and white cat is considered lucky to have. (County Armagh, Ireland.)

When two friends get at odds without knowing why, they say, "A black cat has crossed our path." (Russia.)

A cat "washing its face " means visitors. (Courland, Russia.)

When a cat is washing her face, the first one she looks at will be the first to die. Children often run away so she won't look at them. (County Cork, Ireland.)

To prevent harm to butter from a bad [evil] eye, a nail that has been used in a horseshoe, a little salt, and a bit of lighted coal from a turf fire are put under the churn.

To avert danger from the evil eye, if a visitor comes while churning is going on, he must say, "God bless the work," take the churn-dasher, and give two or three strokes with it. (County Roscommon, Ireland.)

It betokens ill luck to meet a cross-eyed person in the morning. (Cork, Ireland.) It is bad luck to meet a person with a red head or a cross-eyed person. One may avert the ill luck by spitting. (County Roscommon, Ireland.)

Others have thought themselves secure of receiving money, if by chance a little spider fell upon their cloths.

Twist or wind a "money spider" nine times round your head for money or luck. Take him by the web as he spins down. (Isle of Jersey.)

It is lucky to have a butterfly alight on you. (Cork, Ireland.)

"Many cicadas [wrongly translated grasshoppers] indicate that the year will be pestilential." — Theophrastus of Eresus, On Winds and on Weather Signs, translated by James G. Wood, London, 1894.

Crickets are guardians of the hearth. Misfortune will come if one is killed in the house. (Island of Kiu Shiu, Japan.)

If a cricket chirps behind the stove, some one of the family must die. Others consider it an omen of good luck.

A persistent, troubling fly indicates speedy news. (England.) If a fly falls into the porridge, it foretells a visitor.

In most parts of Europe the lady-bug was once held sacred, and many of the children's names for it still testify to this fact.


  1. Wild superstitions for sure.

    Fun read, Lynn.

  2. Does anyone else know the superstition of dropping silverware on the floor? If you drop a knife, it will be a man; if a fork, a woman; if a spoon, a young person. As the piece/pieces drop most call out, "Company's Coming."