Brownielocks and The 3 Bears

The Tradition
History, Meanings,  Predicted Outcomes or  ?


Object or Activity

What it means or what will happen to you?








There are a few suspected origins to this tradition.
The Romans had "Lupercalia" in the spring in which they had a custom of switching young girls in belief that it would give them longer life and fertility.  The ancient Germans were a bit more intense by whipping women/young girls for the same reasons as the Romans.  And, the Druids also did the same thing for the same reason.  As a result, in *some* homes today, on a person's birthday they gently get a spanking on their rear for each year they were born (so far) + one to grow on, one to be good on, one to live long on, one to have a good marriage on...etc.  PS: For the record I always hated this as a child  and I really don't promote this, even if in fun.





For centuries many felt bees came from heaven. So because bees make wax and we make candles from their wax, this is why candles are considered heavenly -- esp. in churches.


Lighted Candles



Ancient conjurers and sorcerers felt candles were a protection against spells.  They also felt that if you watched how they burn you could tell about your future love life.  A good example that lives today is to blow them all out (on your birthday cake) and that means you get your wish.


Breath Rituals



This has to do with blowing on items for luck.  An example is a gambler who blows or spits on the dice before rolling. Why?  In the old days men spit on their axes or shovels (for a better grip) in belief that the gods will make their work easier.





The ancients gave cakes away on days of new beginnings and celebrations, believing they had some magical way to guarantee fertility, good luck, riches and drive away evil.





Often mark occasions of joy, even today.  But our ancestors lighted candles believing they would ward off evil spirits and light their way to long , happy life with their God.   (Note: Candles were the only form of lighting so of course they suddenly removed darkness back then.)






How many of us have walked down a sidewalk and said "Crack, Crack don't step on your mother's back" when playing hop-scotch?  The fear of stepping on a crack goes back to the old fear of letting the soul out of the square  with the four corners symbolic of balance and perfection. 





White doves have represented peace and friendship way back into ancient times.  This is why we see them released during the Olympics.  Doves are believed to be the form taken by holy spirits.


Dove Droppings



Going along with the beliefs mentioned above about doves, well, it was felt to be good luck to the person on whom they fell.  Oh ICK!!! ;)







Many people believe that the restlessness of domestic animals can tell when an earthquake is about to happen.  This is especially true of cattle.  Scientists now check the Lost & Found in newspapers to scan the activity of cats and dogs to help determine if this can be a prediction.  Other's, termed "Sensitives" have been known to have special perception that allows them to foretell coming events, including earthquakes.






All fishermen must wear good-luck charms and never allow a woman to step over their rods.  Why? This will insure good luck while fishing.  More superstitions are  to throw the first fish back in the water; keep spitting on your bait; always bait your hook with your right hand and never never used an upturned bucket as your seat. This will make the water spirits very happy. :)







Gambling is full of superstitions: (1) Never gamble with your legs crossed. (2) Never accept a $2 bill. (3) In dice throwing "Snake Eyes" (two ones) is called a deuce and is said to represent the devil. (4) No dogs are never allowed at the gambling table. (Note: Get the pun of that image of dogs playing poker now?) (5) Always stack your chips in neat piles. (6) Always blow on your cards or dice (don't ask me how you do this when playing on a computer?). (7) If you carry a toenail from a horned toad, Lady Luck will be with you.






The horseshoe is considered a super witch repellent because of it's shape being crescent and resembling the new moon.  This crescent shape is feared also by "little people" aka goblins.  All horseshoes should be hung above a doorway with the ends facing up so that good luck can not run out.










Walking under a ladder has been considered bad luck for hundreds of years.  Logically, we all know how wobbly they are. But that's not the reason.  Ladders have been considered the spiritual ascent to heaven.  So the rule was "Do Not Disturb the spirits who were using them!"  If a ladder is leaning up against a wall that forms a triangle.  And in the old days a triangle symbolized "Life."   So... if you walked under a ladder leaning against a wall you were breaking the symbol of life.   When tested recently in Britain, it was discovered that 70% of people still today refuse to walk under a ladder if there's another option.  But, if you really must walk under a ladder then here are the rules:  Cross your fingers; Spit over your left shoulder (never the right) or...keep silent until you see your first 4-legged animal.  This offsets any evil or danger.






We all have heard that break a mirror and you get 7 years of bad luck, right?  The ancients believed that any image of a person contained a portion of that person's essence.  So if you broke a mirror you injured or destroyed the person looking into it. This grew into just "Don't break the mirror period."  The 7 Years relates to the Romans numerology of Shadows ...(see further down the page on that.)










Salt is not only essential to all humans biologically, but it was believed to be a powerful magical substance.  So any spilling of salt was considered a dangerous omen.  Salt's ability to preserve foods 
(especially meats) from decaying is the reason it's a symbol of eternity and immutability.  It often is a symbol used in pledge-making rituals where taking salt together binds two into eternal friendship.

Salt also was believed  to be powerful enough to keep witches and devils away. So carrying some with you like a talisman or good luck charm would keep you from any danger.

If you are unlucky enough to spill some salt, well never scrap it up!  Instead, throw some over your shoulder and hit the "evil eye" to counteract the omen of bad luck.





If you step on a shadow, it is believed that you bring suffering to the souls of it's owners.  So going back to the mirror superstition, it was believed that the reflection of a person in the mirror contains part of his soul.







Shoes and boots have often been considered good luck items in magic.  This is why some farmers hand a shoe on their fence post.  This is suppose to entice the spirits of good crops and to help them out.  Some also believe that a scarecrow does this since he hangs on a cross.  The custom of throwing an old shoe at the bride and groom goes back to the belief that it will ward off jealousy and evil.  Thus tying shoes on the back of the newlywed's car is to ensure a good venture and a happy voyage.






Ahh-choo!  "God Bless You!"

The custom goes back to an old belief that a person's soul could leave the body via through the mouth and so a sneeze makes the soul vulnerable to evil spirits by ejecting it.  The blessing remarks is suppose to counteract that.





Stars have always been considered to be Gods. So the phrase, "Wish I may, wish I might on the first star I see tonight" is considered the most powerful because it was the first and so the odds of having your desires come true are greater.





The bigger the better is the belief. Why?  They are used to hold down the deceased corpse.  And in some cases the type of stone used for them was either better or worse for holding good or bad spirits.






How many times have you been told not to open an umbrella inside the house?  It's not because they are big and could hit a lamp and knock it over. The reason goes back to the ancient beliefs regarding sun worship.  Since umbrella's shade us from the sun they were given magical powers.  Thus opening an umbrella inside out of the sun's rays is considered offensive to the sun god.








Weather predictions before our  satellite imagery today has been very creative.  
(1) Dogs eating grass, Cats sneezing or licking their fur backwards; pigs straightening their curly tails all means it's going to rain.
(2) On February 2 Ground Hog's Day if the ground hog sees his shadow when coming out of the hole he returns to sleep for 6 more weeks because it's going to be cold weather for that much longer.  If he doesn't see his shadow (i.e. it's a cloudy day) that means good weather is ahead. The only person this makes sense to is Mr. Ground Hog. ;)





Breaking the turkey wishbone is an old custom.  Whoever gets the biggest piece will get good luck. Some say that it goes way back to the old belief of the magical power of the horned moon and the horned god of the Stone Age "little people."






Whistling in the dark (or anytime) is considered a an ancient way to summon the spirits to help you in time of need. (Today it gets you a taxi!)  Sailors whistle to create a wind for sailing.  But if a sailor whistles too loud, it will stir up a gale.  And, another belief is that if a sailor wears a gold earring, it will prevent drowning.  Is this  why we see a lot of pirates with them?






Knock on wood is often done for luck.  The reason this is done is to avoid fate or preventing the spirits from puncturing your pride or deprive you of good fortune.  This ritual goes back to primitive times when Druid oak was considered sacred and holy wood.  Christians believed it was the holy wood of the cross.



Superstitions of the Rich & Famous

Lena Horne, world famous singer believed that peanut shells in her dressing room brought bad luck.

Winston Churchill believed traveling on Fridays was unlucky and avoided it if he could.

Actor Tony Curtis thought laces were unlucky so only wore slip-on shoes.

Cornelius Vanderbilt might have been America's richest man in 1860 but he had his own rituals.  He had the legs of his bed placed in dishes of salt.  He thought the salt would ward off evil spirits.

Queen Elizabeth II believes as many do that it is bad luck to receive a pair of scissors as a gift so she always makes a token payment for any scissors she uses to cut ribbons at official opening.

Babe Ruth thought he ensured good luck when he came in from his right field position by stepping on first base as he passed.

Princess Diana had a lock of hair sewn into her wedding dress.  Some say it was for luck.

Wayne Gretzky, all-time hockey scorer, puts baby powder on his stick before every game AND only tucks in one side of his jersey.

Zsa Zsa Gabor. Her superstition is almost as bad as Lena Horne and her peanut shells. Zsa Zsa believed having goldfish inside the house was bad luck! 




Love and Marriage Superstitions

A woman should steal a man's hatband and wear it as a garter. This will ensure her his love.

Carry the beard of a wild turkey and you will attract love.

When walking with your lover, let nothing (like posts, fire hydrant) come between you and you will keep the love or friendship strong.

Rice thrown at newly weds to transfer the power of earth's fertility to them.

Wedding cake used to be thrown at the couple for the same reasons. Today we eat it. 

A wedding in the month of May is considered bad luck because Romans honored the dead in that month.  June is more popular because it is connected with mating.

Wedding garters (for the bride) must be blue to follow ancient customs of representing spirtuality & constancy.

When a bride throws here wedding bouquet to the single girls, it is based on an ancient custom that whoever catches it will marry that year.

Wedding rings go back to Egyptian times and their vows.  Never take off your wedding ring unless you are using it to fight a witch! 

Carrying the bride over the threshold goes back to when men got their women by capturing them?
Or it is from the old belief to stumble on a threshold is back luck and no man wanted a wife with bad luck  (for bearing children.)

Bridesmaids and Bestman are believed to represent the two contending families fighting it out while the man captured his bride?

Groom is used because it was believed the man was the servant to wait on the bride.

Honeymoon comes an old tradition that only the bride, groom & family were to drink mead liquor (made from honey) for a solid month or one full moon. Some think it was to relax the couple (esp. in arranged marriages). 

Having a Baby?

To guarantee you get a boy, the husband was to stick a knife in his pregnant wife's mattress.

For a girl?
He was to put a skillet under her bed.

More boy ideas:

In the Ozarks, it is believed that the father-to-be sit on the roof near the chimney for 7 hrs.

I mean, as if men need heating up?



If a wife is having a problem getting pregnant, then she is to go naked in her garden on Midsummer's Eve (June 23) and pick a flower called St. John's wort.

Many people feel this is a Holiday for the Superstitious! Are you?
A holiday for
the superstitious at heart.
Friday the Thirteenth is an entire
superstition in itself.  Visit our Page.

Return to our Main Halloween Page
with Halloween Jokes, Trivia,  History, etc.

Midi Title: "Psycho" - Theme from the Alfred Hitchcock  Movie

Source: "Holiday Folklore, Phobias and Fun"
By Donald E. Dossey, Ph.D.
Outcome Unlimited Books © 1992


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