One of my favorite Scholastic books from grade school, which I've saved after all these years, is Superstitious? Here's Why! Here are a few excerpts:
- "Name superstitions run into the hundreds. It's lucky to have only seven letters in either the first or last name. Men with thirteen letters should add one for good luck. No girl should marry a man whose last name has the same initial as hers, or, as the rhyme goes, 'Change the name but not the letter, marry for worse instead of better.' A girl whose name is Mary begins with a good start in life."
- "Salt as a present for a friend in his new home is a custom in many countries. Because of its lasting quality and the fact that it preserved food, salt is believed close to friendship. In ancient Greece a stranger was welcomed by having a pinch of salt placed in his right hand. In Eastern countries salt was put before strangers as a pledge of good will. Hungary has long had the custom of sprinkling the threshold of a new house with salt, so no witch or evil thing will enter."
Do you remember any interesting superstitious sayings from your own family?
- "When you sneeze friends are apt to say, 'God bless you,' or the German expression, 'Gesundheit,' or perhaps the Italian word, 'Felicita.' Maybe they will merely follow the old practice, still popular in the Near and Far East, of clasping their hands and bowing toward you. The custom of asking God's blessing began when early man believed that the essence of life--the spirit or soul--was in the form of air or breath and resided in one's head. A sneeze might accidentally expel the spirit for a short time or even forever, unless God prevented it."