Well friends, here we are in the first week of December. Can you believe it? I’m not really sure what happened to the past 12 months, but it just seems like yesterday that we were talking about Christmas. I must have blinked and missed this past year.
As my parents were often heard saying, “The older you get, the faster the time goes” — or so it seems.
Speaking of parents and old sayings, since we are now into the Christmas season, I thought it would be fun — and, perhaps, informative — to have a look at some of the superstitions followed by some of the “old folks.”.
It is true that when most people think of superstitions or old wives’ tales, they don’t think of Christmas. They most often think of Halloween as being the most superstitious time of the year. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, Santa Claus may come on Christmas Eve, but it’s following these superstitions that some people believe will determine if your holiday will be good or bad.
For instance, did you know …?
- If you eat an apple at midnight on Christmas Eve, it means you will have good health throughout the following year.
- It is considered very lucky to be born on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
- The traditional Christmas dinner consisted of 12 courses for the 12 Disciples.
- It is considered good luck to keep a fire burning in your house during the 12 days of Christmas.
- A loaf of bread left on the table after Christmas Eve dinner will ensure a steady supply of bread for the next year.
- • If your Christmas tree falls over, it means someone you know will soon die.
- If you plan to give a piece of clothing as a Christmas gift, you should not wash it before gifting it as that washes away the good luck.
- Place holly around your house at Christmas to bring you good luck. Itwill also “keep the witches away” during the Christmas season.
- Having difficulty lighting a fire on Christmas is a sign that you will have bad luck for the remainder of the year.
- Opening the doors of your house at midnight on Christmas Eve will allow the evil spirits to escape.
- Keeping a candle lit throughout Christmas Eve will bring good luck to your household.
- But if that candle goes out during the night, it’s a sign of bad luck.
- It is bad luck to sing Christmas carols at any other time of the year.
- If a dog howls on Christmas Eve, it is a sign of bad luck.
- It is considered bad luck if the first visitor to your house on Christmas is a woman.
- The Christmas dinner table should always be set for an even number of guests as odd numbers are said to bring bad luck — even it meant leaving one place unused.
- Place a bowl of garlic under your table for Christmas dinner to bring you strength and protect your family throughout the coming year.
- Place fish scales under your Christmas dinner plates for good luck.
- It is bad luck to consume alcohol on Christmas Eve.
- Diners must wait at the table until everyone completes their Christmas dinner, or else bad luck will befall the household.
- Place a pot of honey in the centre of the Christmas dinner table to ward off evil spirits.
- The gender of the first person to arrive at your house on Christmas Eve is said to predict the sex of the child of any pregnant women in the household.
- At one time, unmarried girls would steal sprigs of mistletoe from church decorations at Christmastime and hide them under their pillows because they believed it would cause them to dream of their future husbands.
- Burning old mistletoe was said to predict marriage prospects of an unmarried girl. (Steady flames = a happy married life. Sputtering flames = a rocky union.)
- It is bad luck to go fishing on Christmas.
- Never wash clothes on Christmas because it is bad luck — and it will cause a boat somewhere to sink.
- Weather conditions during the Christmas season can tell us a great deal. For instance, a blowing wind on Christmas brings good luck with it.If there is snow on the ground on Christmas Eve, it is said to bring you good luck.
- In modern times, we use Canada Post to get our letters to Santa. But it was once a tradition to burn the Christmas letters in the fire so they would be magically transported by the wind to the North Pole.
- Placing acorns on your Christmas tree will bring you good luck.
- Hanging a wreath on your door at Christmas is a sign of welcome to all those who will enter.
- Placing lit candles in your windows on Christmas Eve will help guide lost loved ones back to your home.
I know a lot of people scoff at these seemingly archaic beliefs, but hanging onto these traditions is a way of connecting with our past and heritage — or at least, that’s the view from here.
Vernon Oickle was born and raised in Liverpool where he continues to reside with his family. He has worked for more than 30 years in community newspapers on the South Shore and is the author of 28 books.