Friday, June 4, 2010
Folklife Fridays: Superstitions
There was a new baby boy born this week to our friends at the House of Hope.
It is always such a joyous occasion to have a wee one in the house.
Several years ago, I went through two successful pregnancies. Things were a lot different in the seventies. It seemed my mother and grandmother had a superstition for everything I did while I was pregnant.
First of all, it wasn't supposed to be mentioned in public until the tummy protruded to a point that it could no longer be denied.
(Yes, Grandma, we went past the holding-hands stage. I think most married people do!)
At about my eighth month, my firstborn was kicking and I allowed my unmarried sister to put her hands on my tummy to feel it. My grandma was so embarrassed, she got up and left the room. (I must have been a wild woman!)
During my mother's and grandmother's pregnancies, they didn't go to church, the store, or anywhere public. They thought it best to be modest.
However, after the baby was born, they thought it perfectly acceptable to whip their breast out during church for the child to suckle.
Here are just some of the superstitions concerning pregnancy. There are many, many more than those listed here.
1. If you lift your hands above your head you could wrap the umbilical cord around the baby's neck.
2. Mothers need to stay in the house for six weeks after having the baby so their pores will close.
3. Buying clothes for the baby early is bad luck; you're tempting fate.
4. Pregnant women should avoid cats; they might "steal the babies breath."
5. If a woman wants the sex of her child to be male she must wear blue all through the pregnancy.
Likewise, if she wishes the sex of her child to be female, she must wear pink throughout the pregnancy
6. Pregnant women were not allow to spin wool in the past as this meant her child would die by hanging.
7. Pregnant women were forbidden to prepare food or help with farm animals as they may contaminate the animals.
8. If a woman is having problems conceiving then all she had to do to ensure success was to hug a pregnant woman.
9. Long ago, women were confined in order to ward off evil or the fairies swapping the child at birth.
10. If a woman wants her child to be fair in color then all she had to do was to look at a corpse.
11. It is lucky for a pregnant woman to step over a black cat. It is unlucky if she steps over any other color cat.
12. If a baby kicks on the left-hand side of the womb it is female and on the right, it is male.
13. If a pregnant woman steps over a grave this will ensure premature death for her child.
14. Lions and tigers become enraged at the approach of a pregnant woman, so stay away from the zoo!
15. Lots of heartburn means the baby will have lots of hair.
Humans have to have an answer for everything. In the days before we could google anything, people looked at patterns and past experiences to come up with their answers. Most we hear now are just silly, but some "superstitions" could be accurate.
My grandmother had lost a child soon after it was born; she was going to do everything she could to prevent that from happening to anyone else.
My two sons are now strong adults that are the joy of my heart. I can't recollect ever stepping over a black cat when they were in my womb.
Both have lots of hair, so I guess the heartburn was worth it.