As the diversely ethnic settlers came into the Appalachian region, a detailed system of folklore was developed by combining signs, superstitions, omens, music, stories and beliefs. This system was passed down orally through the years and practiced as a way of keeping the folklore alive. I've heard many of these stories and beliefs while growing up and while I would not consider myself a superstitious person, the possible outcomes of not abiding by these rituals will inevitably worm its way into my mind. Better safe than sorry, right?
Over the next few weeks, I plan on sharing some of these signs, superstitions, and omens and hope that you will be willing to share any that have been passed on in your families and communities.
A sign is believed to predict the future but unlike the omen, signs do not foretell negative happenings.
- A chin dimple is a sign of bad character. Dimples on the chin are said to be made by the devil's shoe. (Why not start off with one the applies to me, huh? I have a chin dimple and like to think that I'm not known for my bad character!)
- Tingling or itching ears are a sign that someone is talking about you. If it is the left ear, you're being gossiped about. If the right, good things are being said.
- Sole of your foot itching? This is a sign that you are about to embark on a long journey.
- If you have a candle that is hard to light, it is a sign that rain is on the way.
- Dreaming of bees is a sign of good fortune.
A superstition is an irrational belief, usually arising from ignorance or fear, that is believed by a number of people but is without foundation.
- An acorn placed on a window will will protect the house from lightning strikes.
- Treading on an ant nest will cause rain that day.
- A man who wipes his hands on a girl's apron is sure to fall in love with her. (German)
- Spitting on a new baby will bring the child good luck. (Irish)
- Never leave a baby's washed diapers on the clothesline during a full moon because they will attract evil forces.
Omen- a phenomenon that is believed to tell the future, which also signifies change...usually negative
- A chicken laying an uneven number of eggs is an omen of danger.
- If a rabbit crosses your path before sunrise, unhappiness will cloud your day.
- If the dough for baking bread cracks while being shaped, a funeral will occur soon.
- If a broom falls over for no reason when someone walks past, it is an omen of bad fortune.
- Calling out the name of a deceased person while dreaming is an omen of a death.
I would love to hear any of the signs, superstitions, and omens that are a part of your families or communities. Feel free to share in the comments section below or you can send me a message on the Appalachian Mountain Roots Facebook page.