By Patricia Roche
If we took it all seriously we probably wouldn’t even get out of bed in the mornings, there are many pishogues handed down throughout the generations and some can even have different meanings, depending on where you live.
I believe a lot of these superstitions are mind over matter and whatever will be will be, but nonetheless it’s always nice to have some signal from fate!
If you look out the window at dawn and see a red sky, chances are it won’t be a fine day but ‘rain before seven may mean dry by eleven’. If your right hand is itchy, money is coming your way but if it’s the left one, an unexpected expense is imminent but in some places it’s the reverse; right ear hot someone is saying something nice about you, left one and it’s malicious, again this can be the other way around.
Right foot itchy means you’re going somewhere you’ve never been before, left foot you’ll hear bad news; if you drop a glove (even a rubber one) you’ll get a disappointment, if it’s a towel, you’ll have a visitor.
If you let anything at all fall and someone picks it up for you, you can tell that person that he or she will get a pleasant surprise on an appointed date and time, e.g., with the postman next morning, whether or not this happens is another story!
Never give a pair of gloves to a valued friend as a present because it will be the end of the friendship; giving a gift of a scissors could have the same outcome. If you spill salt, it’s best to throw a pinch over your right shoulder for good luck; always bless yourself with holy water before going out.
Leaving the house is another thing altogether. They say “a wise man carries his coat on a fine day.” Avoid dashing about because “more hurry, less speed.” To walk under a ladder could bring bad luck. Should you meet a black cat on the way, lady luck will smile upon you.
Magpies are birds associated with superstitions, most of us hope to see two for joy. I’ve sometimes seen one on a tree and waited so long for a second that I was late for work! It’s also considered unlucky to cross on the stairs with someone going the opposite direction.
Many people believe in lucky numbers. I don’t like number 13 and particularly dread a Friday 13th, but have often experienced far worse calamities on a Thursday 12th!
The first person who comes to your house in the New Year should be a man; if you suffer from backache, leave your belt outside overnight on St Bridget’s feast day and having a St Bridget’s cross hanging on the wall will prevent your home catching fire.
Don’t lend or borrow on May day and if it rains on St Swithin’s Day “for forty days it shall remain.” Anyone brewing poteen should always throw the first glass out for the fairies!
A statue of the Infant of Prague has at least two virtues – if you put a coin underneath it you’ll never be broke and if you want a fine day, leave it outdoors the night before.
Another belief is you shouldn’t argue or fight with a priest, and don’t get on the wrong side of a widow as she can put a curse on anyone who upsets her.
A blacksmith is someone else you shouldn’t cross swords with because he can turn the anvil on you. They say a seventh son of a seventh son has a cure for ringworm, and a couple where the wife had the same surname before they married has a cure for whooping cough.
A fairy-fort is considered sacred and it is said that ill-fortune will befall anyone who digs it up or builds on it. A horse-shoe hung over the door for good luck must be hung facing downwards (not as a ‘U’) otherwise luck will disappear.
If you find a four-leaved clover you’re charmed altogether and if you see a small coin on the road remember the rhyme: “See a penny, pick it up/ All day long you’ll have good luck. See a penny let it lie/ All day long your luck will fly!”
The day you’re born is significant to your personality. We’ve all heard that “Monday’s child is fair of face, Tuesday’s child is full of grace, Wednesday’s child is full of woe…” and, of course, the days of the week to get married on or not, “Monday for health, Tuesday for wealth, Wednesday the best day of all…”
Although I wouldn’t describe myself as very superstitious, I don’t disbelieve some of these myths. I like to give fate a fighting chance. I have my favourite number and will always look out for a second magpie,
I cringe if I drop a glove and avoid walking under a ladder. Many years ago I was very ill and ended up in bed number 22 in hospital. Straight away I began to feel better because this is my all-time favourite number. We have a seventh son of a seventh son in our village called Brian who’s been curing ringworm for years.
I try not to be full of woe, even if I was born on a Wednesday, and whenever my right hand is itchy I hope for a lottery win, even when I haven’t bought a ticket! ÷