As promised in a previous post, I am beginning a follow-up series on superstitions of people in various countries around the world.
The Irish, by all accounts, are a very superstitious people. The following are a selection of some of their more odd superstitions:
- It is believed that the souls of the dead that die abroad, wish to be buried in Ireland. The dead will not rest peaceably unless buried with their forefathers and people of their own kind.
- If a bird flew into the house, it was a portent of death.
- A purse made from a weasel would never be empty.
- If a child was born before noon, he or she would not be able to see spirits or the good people – but if born at night, the child would have the gift.
- If you are pursued at night by an evil spirit, or ghost of the dead, and you hear footsteps behind you, try to reach a stream of running water. If you are able to cross it, the devil or ghost will not be able to follow you.
- Never cut an infant’s nails until it is a year old, or it will be addicted to stealing.
- Friday is the most unlucky day of all the year, and no one should begin a journey, or move into a new house, or begin a business, or cut a new dress on a Friday. Most of all never bring a cat from one house to another on a Friday.
- A shoe of a horse nailed to the door-post will bring good luck. (The shoe must be found. It cannot be given.)
This is only a sampling of the hundreds of superstitions. Many were just listed on sites, without guessing at their origins.
The bird flying into a house being portent of death was actually a big deal when the 1918 influenza pandemic hit. In a PBS (I think) documentary I watched on the Spanish Flu they quoted a nursery rhyme the kids used to sing:
I had a little bird his name was Enza.
I opened the window and in flew Enza.