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RED FLOWERS unlucky

RED FLOWERS unlucky   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Superstitions

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Subject Reference
Current Version:
2003
Subject:
Society and culture, Customs and Traditions
Length:
223 words

...FLOWERS unlucky 1839 Life of M. G. Lewis I 20. Mrs Lewis happened to make some remark on a beautiful rose which Miss Ray wore in her bosom. Just as the words were uttered, the flower fell to the ground … as she picked it up, the red leaves scattered themselves on the carpet, and … the poor girl … said … ‘I trust I am not to consider this as an evil omen!’ [Later that evening Miss Ray was murdered at the entrance of Covent Garden Theatre.] 1889 N & Q 7th ser. VIII 265. I have always understood that a red rose was considered unlucky. 1890 N & Q 7th...

CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS (evergreens), burning

CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS (evergreens), burning   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Superstitions

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Current Version:
2003
Subject:
Society and culture, Customs and Traditions
Length:
372 words

...DECORATIONS (evergreens), burning ante 1072 Exeter Book (ed. G. P. Krapp et al. , maxim 2, ll. 79–80) Holly must be burned, a dead man's legacy divided. Good fame is ever best. 1648 HERRICK Hesperides 146 ‘New-yeares gift’. A jolly Verse crown'd with Yvie, and with Holly; That tels of … cracking Laurell, which fore-sounds, A Plentious harvest to your grounds. 1719 – 20 Hist. mss Commission Reports mss of Duke of Portland VII 269 [Christ Church, Oxford] It has been usual for our choristers to burn the day before Candlemas the greens...

CIGARETTE, lighting third

CIGARETTE, lighting third   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Superstitions

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Subject Reference
Current Version:
2003
Subject:
Society and culture, Customs and Traditions
Length:
280 words

...for this universal practice. 1922 LYND Solomon 162. Two men, equal in brain and courage, will behave quite differently when it comes to … lighting a cigarette from a match from which two cigarettes have already been lit. 1969 G. COPPARD With a Machine Gun to Cambrai: the tale of a young Tommy in Kitchener's army 20. No matches were used in darkness. A simple lighter which sparked off a thick corded wick into a smouldering glow was a popular substitute for matches. The origin of the unlucky third light from one match probably started in the South...

BRIDE'S CLOTHES: garter

BRIDE'S CLOTHES: garter   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Superstitions

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Subject Reference
Current Version:
2003
Subject:
Society and culture, Customs and Traditions
Length:
292 words

...had won the race … Her ladyship stepped half over the threshold … raised her silken gown [and] turning to the young fellow [said] ‘Take it off, Tom, and give it to your sweetheart, and may it bring luck to both of you.’ c. 1828 Calvert MS, Pickering, Yorks. ( G. HOME Evolution of an English Town 218–20) The youths of the company would race from the church porch to the bride's house, and the first who arrived claimed the right of removing the garter from her left leg … He would afterwards tie it round his own sweetheart's leg as a love charm against...

NEW YEAR and house/home: nothing to be taken out

NEW YEAR and house/home: nothing to be taken out   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Superstitions

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Current Version:
2003
Subject:
Society and culture, Customs and Traditions
Length:
443 words

...instead of beginning at the door, and sweeping the dust to the hearth, as the good fortune of the family individually would thereby be considered to be swept from the house for that year. 1849 BRAND Antiquities I 20. Never throw any ashes, or dirty water, or any article, however worthless, out of your house on this day. It betokens ill-luck; but you may bring in as many honestly gotten goods as you can procure. 1866 HENDERSON Northern Counties 57. When a boy … I remember accompanying the mistress of the house to her kitchen … when she called together...

MOUSE cures whooping cough

MOUSE cures whooping cough   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Superstitions

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Current Version:
2003
Subject:
Society and culture, Customs and Traditions
Length:
416 words

...advised as a cure for the whooping cough. 1952 G. RAVERAT Period Piece 57. And even in the year 1947 a fried mouse was most earnestly recommended to me. 1952 Sunday Times 2 Mar. 8 . A woman brought her young son to see me for some trivial ailment. She told me that some weeks previously he had had whooping cough, and that on the advice of an old woman of the village she caught a mouse in her kitchen, cooked it and gave it to the boy, whereupon the cough disappeared. 1986 Daily Telegraph 20 Jan. 8 . Recent concern over the number of whooping...

SHIFT/SMOCK etc., apparition turns

SHIFT/SMOCK etc., apparition turns   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Superstitions

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Subject Reference
Current Version:
2003
Subject:
Society and culture, Customs and Traditions
Length:
706 words

...another before the fire, and be sure not to speak whatever you hear or see. In a little time the likeness of those persons you shall marry will come and turn your smocks, and drink to you; now if there be any of you that will never marry, they will hear a bell. 1755 Connoisseur 20 Feb. [Midsummer Eve] I took a clean shift, and turned it, and hung upon the back of a chair; and very likely my sweetheart would have come and turned it right again, (for I heard his step) but I was frightened, and could not help speaking, which broke the charm. 1770 Poor Robin's...

DUMB CAKE: divination

DUMB CAKE: divination   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Superstitions

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Current Version:
2003
Subject:
Society and culture, Customs and Traditions
Length:
732 words

...bakt enough every one breaks a piece, and eats one part and laies the other part under their pillow to dream of y e person they shall marry. But all this to be done in serious silence w'hout one word or one smile, or els the cake looses the name and the vertue. 1755 Connoisseur 20 Feb. [Midsummer Eve] I and my two sisters tried the Dumb-Cake together … two must make it, two bake it, two break it, and the third put it under each of their pillows, (but you must not speak a word all the time,) and then you will dream of the man you are to have. 1823 W. GRANT...

IMAGE/PICTURE used to injure or kill

IMAGE/PICTURE used to injure or kill   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Superstitions

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Subject Reference
Current Version:
2003
Subject:
Society and culture, Customs and Traditions
Length:
1,284 words

...As the flame did grow in bulke, and gan for to increase: So did the waxen image … by small and small decrease. I markte the drabbishe sorcerers and harde their dismall spell. c. 20 bc OVID Heroides VI ll. 91–2 (tr. Showerman, 1914 ) She [Medea] vows to their doom the absent, fashions the waxen image, and into its wretched heart drives the slender needle. ad 972 G. BUCHANAN History of Scotland ( 1762 , I 246) From a discovery made by a certain harlot, whose mother was noted for a witch, [Donald] detected the whole conspiracy. For the young...

hungry grass

hungry grass   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology

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Current Version:
2004

...of grass that leaves those unfortunates who tread upon it with a hunger that cannot be satisfied. A lesser-known tradition speaks of the fear gortach [hungry man] who begs for alms and rewards those who favour him. Also known as fairy grass. A frequent allusion in 20th-century Irish literature, e.g. Donagh MacDonagh's poems The Hungry Grass (London, 1947 ), and Richard Power's novel The Hungry Grass (London and New York, 1969 ). See also FÓIDÍN MEARAÍ...

stumbling

stumbling   Quick reference

A Dictionary of English Folklore

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Subject Reference
Current Version:
2003

...in England starts in 1180 with Nigel De Longchamps , Mirror for Fools , and includes Spenser, Shepheardes Calendar ( 1579 ), Scot ( 1584 ), Shakespeare , Webster , Aubrey , and many more right through to the 20th century. Stumbling on the way out means your journey or mission will go badly, stumbling on the way in (e.g. at the threshold) means that danger or ill luck lurks inside. Opie and Tatem provide all the main references, and two much earlier ones: Plutarch ( c. 110 ad ) and Saint Augustine of Hippo ( c. 396 ad ). Particularly...

Gorsedd Beirdd Ynys Prydain

Gorsedd Beirdd Ynys Prydain   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology

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Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004

...London, to remind the English of their Celtic antecedents. Although the word gorsedd is found in early Welsh texts, e.g. the gorsedd of Arberth , the present celebration of the Gorsedd unquestionably begins with Iolo; he later encouraged the establishment of a gorsedd in each province of Wales. By the mid-19th century, the Gorsedd had become a part of the national Eisteddfod . Membership in the Gorsedd was about 1,300 at the end of the 20th century. A Breton Gorsedd, Gorzez Breizh, was founded in 1901 ; the Cornish, Gorseth Kernow, in 1927 . See Geraint...

Connemara

Connemara   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology

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Current Version:
2004

...one of the most characteristic of traditional Irish culture. Despite exploitation by the tourist industry, Connemara remains a living reservoir of folk culture that has been tapped by many collectors. In the early 20th century James Berry ( 1842–1914 ) reshaped many of the narratives of Connemara, something in the manner of William Carleton; see G. M. Horgan (ed.), Tales of the West of Ireland (Dublin, 1964 ); see also Tim Robinson , Connemara (Galway, 1990...

Fenian

Fenian   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology

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Current Version:
2004

...for fianna . In many 19th-century writers, e.g. Sir Walter Scott, Fenian pertains to stories of Fionn mac Cumhaill . The ambiguous reference to both fianna and Fionn persists in the naming of the Fenian Cycle . In 1858 ‘Fenian’ was adopted as an alternate name for the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a secret revolutionary society dedicated to the overthrow of English authority in Ireland. Never fully quashed, Fenian activity in the British Isles and North America peaked in 1866–7 . In the 20th century ‘Fenian’ popularly denotes Republican...

Scrapfaggot Green, the witch of

Scrapfaggot Green, the witch of   Quick reference

A Dictionary of English Folklore

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Subject Reference
Current Version:
2003

...on the occult (e.g. Valiente , 1973 : 352–4), but locals now admit they were tricks played on the London journalist. How much genuine folklore underlay them is now unclear; the name ‘Scrapfaggot’ invites puns, there are historical records of a witchcraft case at nearby Boreham, and there seems to have been a ‘Witch's Stone’ around in the 1930s (though not at the crossroads). Since the 1980s, a stone outside a pub in Great Leighs is claimed to be the original, supposedly brought there in 1945 . FLS News 17 (1993), 12–13; 19 (1994), 11;20 (1994), 11; 24...

opals

opals   Quick reference

A Dictionary of English Folklore

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Current Version:
2003

.... In the 20th century, opals have been considered by many to be unlucky, especially as engagement rings, because they symbolize widowhood and tears. Those who know their astrology maintain, however, that the stone is lucky for those born under Libra. This modern prejudice against the opal is curious, as in the past it was a treasured and lucky stone, and it seems to have undergone a reversal of fortune as regards popular belief. Correspondence in N&Q in 1869 and 1875 states clearly that opals were regarded as unlucky stones by some people at the time,...

geis

geis   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology

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Current Version:
2004

...herself with a geis he initially finds impossible to perform. In several love stories, e.g. Deirdre , Gráinne , and Diarmait , the heroine places the hero under geis to elope with her. See also GLÁM DÍCENN . See John R. Reinhard , The Survival of Geis in Medieval Romance (Halle, 1933 ); Phillip O'Leary , ‘The Honour of Women in Early Irish Literature’, Ériu , 38 ( 1987 ), 27–44; ‘Honour-Bound: The Social Context of Early Irish Heroic Geis’ , Celtica , 20 ( 1988 ),...

conkers

conkers   Quick reference

A Dictionary of English Folklore

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Subject Reference
Current Version:
2003

...as well known in the second half of the 19th century as one would expect from its ubiquity in the 20th. As Vickery points out, the entries in Britten and Holland's Dictionary of English Plant-Names ( 1878–86 ) imply that the game was known in certain parts of the country only. The modern game of conkers is replete with its own etiquette and terminology, including the scoring by which a victorious conker takes on the score of its defeated opponent (e.g. if a ten-er beats a six-er it becomes a seventeen-er, 10 +6 + 1). Your opponent can stamp on your...

childbirth

childbirth   Quick reference

A Dictionary of English Folklore

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Subject Reference
Current Version:
2003

...turned increasingly to doctors and trained registered midwives, so by the late 19th century only working-class mothers called in ‘the handywoman’; by the mid-20th century, home births were rare. See also BABIES , CAULS , CONCEPTION , PLACENTAS , PREGNANCY . Chamberlain, 1981 , examines the history of women as healers and midwives, including oral information from London and East Anglia in the early 20th century. Forbes, 1966 , has chapters on several birth-related topics, using learned sources. Cf. Gélis, 1991 ; his material is...

shepherds' score

shepherds' score   Quick reference

A Dictionary of English Folklore

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Current Version:
2003

...Bumfit 16 Yan-a-bumfit 17 Tan-a-bumfit 18 Tethera-bumfit 19 Pethera-bumfit 20 Jiggit (From the Lake District, N&Q 180 ( 1941 ), 459–60) In England, the numerals have been collected in the counties of Yorkshire, Cumberland, Westmorland, Lancashire, Northumberland, and Lincolnshire (see Barry for an extensive list of examples). Attention was drawn to these numerals by antiquarians and dialect collectors in the later 19th century, and it has been repeatedly asserted since that time (e.g. by Gay) that they represent a survival of the pre-Anglo-Saxon population of...

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