Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Signs, Superstitions, and Omens: Week One

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. 

*This post was originally published here on Appalachian Mountain Roots on 9/20/16.*


  1. I just stumbled on this site. I am native to WV. I grew up also hearing that when your palm was itching that you were going to come into money.
    I also heard that if you drop a fork that meant company was coming.
    Killing daddy long leg spiders caused rain, and if you held one of their legs down they would point to which way a storm would come in.

  2. Three Knocks at the Door -- My step-grandfather raised me with my paternal grandmother. He was of English, Irish and Scottish ancestry. In his family there was a belief that if you heard three knocks at the door and no one was there, it was a sign there would be a death in the family soon. After I married and moved away, my husband and I heard three knocks at our front door while we were in the back yard. When we went around to the front door, no one was there. Then we walked to the end of our driveway and looked both ways up and down the road passing by our house, but we saw no cars traveling the road in either direction. The next day I received a phone call that my paternal grandmother was in the hospital with a 10% chance of living after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. As I traveled by car to reach the hospital, I looked up at a storefront clock and noted the time 3:15 p.m. for some reason. By the time I reached the hospital, she had already died. I was informed she had died at 3:15 p.m.