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Tradition and Superstition

26 Mar

See a penny, pick it up

All the day you’ll have good luck.

I got out of the car and saw it on the road between the curb and the rear tire. A penny! I chanted the ditty in my head as I picked it up. Then, I paused. There was something odd about this penny.

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It was made of plastic, the kind of penny  you see in a classroom math set. Did that mean the deal promised by the poem is off? Did it mean no luck? Bad luck? I mulled it over and laughed as I did so. I didn’t really believe picking up the penny meant good luck, I just liked the tradition and it got me thinking about some of the other superstitious traditions I’ve inherited, mostly from my mother.

My mother would always spoon up bubbles in her tea. Drinking the bubbles that way meant she’d get money. I simply drink the bubbles, so maybe that’s why I’ve never benefitted from them.

You know those shivers you get for no reason? Mom always said they meant that someone just stepped on the spot that will be your grave.

She taught some lessons, I still follow. Giving a knife as a gift, though practical for bridal showers can be a source of bad luck that might sever the relationship. To combat this evil, you give  a penny with the knife, which the recipient returns to you as a “payment”, saving the friendship. If giving someone a wallet or purse, you need to put a silver coin inside, to ensure that it will never be empty. Silly, but I can’t help myself.

Weather obsessive that I am, I still recite Red sky at night/ Sailor’s delight./ Red sky in the morning/Sailors take warning when I see a red sky. Sometimes it is accurate, sometimes not, but I keep on doing it.

Living in the big city, I don’t often get crickets in the house, but we seemed to get them frequently when I was a kid. Although she would hunt down all other insects, my mother always left crickets alone because they symbolized good luck. She told us not to kill spiders because doing so would cause rain. I carry spiders outside to safety and say “Spiders are our grade friends” because that is what I say and do in my classroom, but my mom’s warning always runs through my brain.

I grew up knowing that breaking a mirror brought you seven years bad luck, as did opening an umbrella in the house and walking under a ladder.  I still toss salt over my left shoulder when I spill some, not because I believe it will prevent bad luck, but just in case it might.

We pulled wishbones at Thanksgiving for good luck and were warned not to cry on our birthdays because doing so would mean we would cry all year.

And we never, ever stepped on crack!

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