Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween - Spooky Signs and Omens

Halloween was always a fun time for me growing up. We would either dress up in something thrown together from around the house or we'd end up with the cheap plastic costumes that seemed to be so popular in the 80s. Remember those? My big brother is Scooby and I'm the Smurf. 

We'd jump in the car and head over to our grandparent's house & the houses of other family and friends. My Dad always made sure to take us to one house in particular. A lady that worked at our school cafeteria always made and gave candied apples and popcorn balls. That was Halloween GOLD back in the day. I don't even know anyone that makes either of those treats these's generation is missing out! 

I thought I would share a few of the spookier Signs and Omens to go along with this spooky night. I hope you enjoy them and you can find past installments here on my blog.

I found these vintage Halloween items in an antique store, Black & White Antiques, in Blairsville, GA.

  • Settlers would dress a child in clothes of the opposite sex as a way to confuse the devil. Some Irish settlers would do this until the children reached 14 years of age.
  • You shouldn't turn down the bed too early in the evening because it invites evil spirits to hop in. 
  • You should always check under the bed before going to sleep to make sure that the devil isn't hiding there.
  • Ringing a church bell can frighten off evil spirits.
  • If a flying witch hears the sound of a church bell, it will cause her to fall to the ground.
  • A birch tree planted beside the front door provides protection from a witch trying to enter the house. She will be drawn to counting the leaves before she can go in.
  • Dark birds that flock around trees but never land are said to be the souls of evil persons who cannot rest.
  • Placing bread and coffee under a house will keep ghosts from entering it.
  • A girl can learn what type of husband she'll marry by pulling up a cabbage by the roots on Halloween. If the roots are sturdy and straight, her husband will be handsome and strong. If they are crooked, he will be dishonest and cruel.
  • Chestnuts must be placed on a table on Halloween as a gift for the dead. This insures that the house will not become haunted.
  • If you're walking down a road on Halloween night and you hear someone walking behind you, you must not turn around because it may be death himself. 
  • Never go hunting on Halloween because you may accidentally wound a wandering spirit.
  • If you stop at a crossroads on Halloween and listen carefully to the wind, you may be able to hear what the future holds.
  • If a girl stands in front of a mirror on Halloween, eating an apple while combing her hair at midnight, her future husband's image will be reflected over her left shoulder.
  • An old Scottish superstition says that a young girl can count the number of grains on an oak stalk on Halloween to see how many children she will have.
  • Bleeding on Halloween is an omen that the injured person will die in the near future.
  • If the flame of a candle flickers and then turns blue, there is a spirit in the room.
  • If you feel a chill go up your spine, someone has just walked over your grave.
  • Hold your breath when you walk past a cemetery or you might breathe in the soul of someone who has recently died.
  • Not sharing your Halloween candy means you're greedy. Ha, I had to throw that one in there. ;)
I'd love to hear of any old Halloween superstitions or traditions that you've heard or observe! 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tomato Biscuits

This was biscuit #2. I wasn't patient enough to get a picture of biscuit #1...priorities.

There's just something about a homegrown tomato. My parent's garden is still producing tomatoes, greens, peppers & even a little okra and thankfully, they are generous enough to share. I woke up this morning thinking about the tomatoes they sent home with me and I immediately wanted a tomato biscuit. I mean, you just can't beat a big ol' slice of tomato on a hot from the oven buttermilk biscuit. I'm thankful I had enough time before leaving for church to enjoy a couple of them. No growling belly interrupting the service this morning!

I love tomatoes and it's a good thing I do because we ate a lot of them growing up...well, everyone except my older brother. He's a mater hater! Shameful, ain't it? I guess him not liking them does mean more tomatoes for me though! I'm already dreading the day when the last of the tomatoes will be picked but until then, I will savor every single one that I can get my hands on and count the days until tomato time next year. 

Have you ever had a tomato biscuit? 

*You still have time to win a signed copy of Appalachian Lore: Haints, Hexes, Hoo-Doos and Such. If you'd like to find out how to enter the giveaway, you can go here.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Superstitions: Mirrors

Hey, y'all! I was all ready to share another week of SSOs but decided to focus on the superstitions surrounding one topic: mirrors. Since we're only a week and a half away from Halloween, I'll share some of the spookier mirror superstitions.

A superstition is an irrational belief, usually arising from ignorance or fear, that is believed by a number of people but is without foundation.
  1. If you break a mirror, you will have seven years of bad luck. This superstitions seems to stem from when early people believed that they could see the image of their soul in a mirror. If it was broken, so was the soul and it was a sure sign of a person's death. The seven years come from the ancient Roman belief that it took that many years for a soul to renew itself. An Appalachian remedy for remedying the seven year curse was to bury the broken mirror deeply in the ground.
  2.  I mentioned this one last week: If a baby sees it's image in a mirror before the age of six months, it will die before it turns one year old.
  3. It's considered bad luck to see your face in the mirror by candlelight because you might see the spirit of a loved one who has died. 
  4. If three people look into the same mirror at the same time, the youngest will soon die. 
  5. And the one that I find the most fascinating and will elaborate on more below: You must cover the mirror in the room where anyone who has passed so their soul will not be trapped. The covering can be removed after the funeral. 
I've decided to be a little vulnerable and share a secret with you...I'm afraid of old mirrors. I hate them! I'm a lover of many old things and love visiting antique shops but as soon as I spot an old mirror, I'll do anything I can to avoid it. 

I think this fear comes from the superstition that goes along with covering mirrors when someone dies. I've never personally witnessed anyone practicing this superstition but have read about it and seen it done in some movies. One of my all time favorite novels is Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. I'm going to go a little off topic for a moment so please bear with me...Fannie Flagg is one of my FAVORITE authors and I've read all of her books. She is a brilliant and hilarious storyteller. If you want a good dose of southern humor, check her out! Okay, now that that's out of the way, back to why I mentioned Fried Green most of you know the novel was made into a movie. Those of you who have watched the movie may remember the scene where Ruth dies in bed. As soon as she passes, Sipsey covers the mirror in her room. Throughout the movie, Sipsey is a very superstitious person and I can only conclude that she covered that mirror because she believed her doing so would allow Ruth's spirit to cross over into her new life. If she hadn't, Ruth's soul would have become trapped and she would have to stay and haunt all who remain in this world.

Like I said, I've never personally witnessed anyone practicing the ritual that goes along with this superstition but it must have been scary enough to stay with me. Every time I look at an old mirror I can't help but wonder if it was in a room where someone passed or possibly where a wake took place. What if they didn't cover it? I don't want any part of that! Nope, nope, nope. I'd like to think that I'm a mature gal who has a decent IQ but I can't seem to even logically convince myself that there isn't anything to be afraid of. Whether anyone thinks this one is ignorant or not, you can bet the farm on me not having an old mirror in my house!

*You still have time to win a signed copy of Appalachian Lore: Haints, Hexes, Hoo-Doos and Such. If you'd like to find out how to enter the giveaway, you can go here.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Appalachian Lore book review & giveaway!

Since starting this blog, I've had the opportunity to get to know many different Appalachian authors, chefs, and fellow bloggers and that's all because of social media. I have discovered that the Appalachian warmth, welcome, and willingness to help is even present within the social media setting. I haven't once found a person who hasn't been willing to share what they have learned and along with that, an offer to help whenever I may need it...and in a world full of busy schedules and competitive attitudes, that's pretty special.

One of these amazing people that I've met happens to be an Appalachian author by the name of Philip Kent Church. Philip is an Appalachian author, poet, and songwriter from Virginia. He recently sent me a signed copy of Appalachian Lore: Haints, Hexes, Hoo-Doos and Such to review and giveaway...right in time for Halloween!

I've always loved a good goosebump inducing story and this book is full of them! Out of all of the stories mentioned, there are two that I enjoyed the most: "The Black Sisters" and "The Legend of Tom Dooley."

The tale of "The Black Sisters" is a story about three spinster sisters from Christiansburg, Virginia who haunt a school building built on the grounds of a former all girls school where the sisters lived and served as administrators and teachers. The sister's deaths were followed with unexplained sounds, apparitions, lights being turned off, and even a rumored ritualistic murder. What makes the story even spookier is the first hand accounts of Philip himself! 

The other story I enjoyed was "The Legend of Tom Dooley." My dad used to play the famous song on his banjo when I was little and I found out that the song was based on a true story that happened in Wilkes County, NC. I honestly knew a good bit about this folklore because of previously doing my own research but found Philip's account of the story to be a good one. This story has everything a good one needs: love, betrayal, jealousy, and an unsolved murder! 

Tom Dooley (actually Dula but regional pronunciation has led people to commonly spell it as it was said) was a small town North Carolina boy who returned from war and met and started a relationship with a local girl, Laura Foster. This could have been a happy story had Tom not been having a relationship with Laura's married cousin, Anne Melton, also. Folklore has it that Laura became pregnant, and she and Tom decided to elope. The morning that Laura was to meet Tom (May 25, 1866), she quietly left her home and rode off on her father's horse never to be seen alive again. No one really knows what happened that day, but many believe that Anne learned of the couple's meeting and met Laura as she was on her way, murdered her, and then hid her body. Tom is said to have believed that Anne murdered Laura but loved Anne enough to take the blame which resulted in his execution. 

Now that I've told you a little about Philip's book, I would like to give you all a chance to win one of your own! There are several ways to enter:
  1. Like the Appalachian Mountain Roots Facebook page. = 1 entry
  2. Like Philip Kent Church's Facebook page. = 1 entry
  3. Like and share the **GIVEAWAY** post over on the Appalachian Mountain Roots Facebook page. = 2 entries
  4. Subscribe to this blog by email on the blog page. = 1 entry
  5. Share this blog post on your Facebook page. = 1 entry

This giveaway will start today (10/17/16) and run until 7 pm on 10/24/16. I will be using an online random name selector to choose the winner and the winner will be announced over on the Appalachian Mountain Roots Facebook page on 10/25/16. If your name is chosen, you will have 2 days to submit your mailing information. If it isn't received by the deadline, a new winner will be notified. Best of luck to all of y'all!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Signs, Superstitions, and Omens - Week 3

*This post was originally published here at Appalachian Mountain Roots on 10/13/2016*

Hey y'all! It has been a few weeks since my last installment of signs, superstitions, and omens (SSOs). I ended up having to spend a few more days in the big house (how I fondly refer to the hospital) and it took a little longer for me to "get back on my feet." Anyway, enough about my moans and groans...if you happened to miss the past installments, you can find them here: Week 1 & Week 2. 
I hope you enjoy these and please share any that you've heard in your neck of the woods!

A sign is believed to predict the future but unlike the omen, signs do not foretell negative happenings.
  • According to Native American superstition, biting your tongue is a sign that you will soon receive either good news or a present.
  • A dropped towel is a sign that you will have the arrival of an unwanted visitor. According to Scottish pioneers, you can nullify the sign by stepping backwards over the towel.
  • If you dream that your teeth fall out, its a sign that your enemy will soon die. I always heard that it meant you would have sickness approaching.

A superstition is an irrational belief, usually arising from ignorance or fear, that is believed by a number of people but is without foundation.
  • Is there a thief in your community? Have a group of suspects dance around an upturned axe & when if falls over, the shaft will be pointing to the thief.
  • If a baby sees it's image in a mirror before the age of six months, it will die before it turns one year old. 
  • I remember when my Dude was around 5 months old, I left him sleeping on the couch while I went to make up my bed. I heard a thump and a cry not even 2 minutes after leaving the room. I raced back to the living room and scooped him up and cried right along with him. My Papaw Glenn happened to call about that time and calmed me down. He told me that he had always heard that if a baby didn't roll off of the bed before it was a year old, it would die. I'm not sure if that was really a superstition he had actually heard or if he was just trying to make me feel helped a little.

Omen- a phenomenon that is believed to tell the future, which also signifies change...usually negative.
  • Bad luck will come to a household if someone dreams of an axe.
  • Dreaming of a lizard is an omen that you have a secret enemy.
  • If a bat comes close to flying into a person, it is an omen that the person will be betrayed by a friend. 
  • A cat in a coal mine is an omen and the cat must be killed to avoid a death in the mines.

I hope that y'all have enjoyed this week's SSOs. Next week, I'll be sharing some more along with my review of a book by Appalachian author, Philip Kent Church. The name of the book is: Appalachian Lore: Haints, Hexes, Hoo-Doos and Such. 
I will also be having a giveaway over on my Facebook page of a signed copy of the book! Be sure to keep an eye out for it!!