Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Czech Christmas Superstitious Dinner Customs

·         No light is to be lit in the house before the first star comes out. Dinner is served afterwards. An odd number of guests brings bad luck or death.
·         The legs of the table are to be tied with a rope to protect the house from thieves in the following years.
·         No one should sit with their back to the door.
·         Dinner should consist of nine courses.
·         No alcohol to be served on Christmas Eve.
·         Getting up from the Christmas table before dinner is finished will bring bad luck and death.
·         No one should leave anything on the plate.
·         The first person to leave the table after dinner will be the first one to die in the coming year. Therefore everyone should get up from the table simultaneously.
·         Leftover food should be buried around the trees. This will get a lot of fruit.
·         All household animals should be fed after dinner.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Superstitions in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Superstition in Chapter 1: “Pretty soon a spider went crawling up my shoulder, and I slipped it off and it lit in the candle; and before I could budge it was all shriveled up. I didn't need anybody to tell me that that was an awful bad sign and would fetch me some bad luck, so I was scared and most shook the clothes off of me. I got up and turned around in my tracks three times and crossed my breast every time; and then I tied up a little lock of my hair to keep witches away."

Analysis: The spider crawling up the shoulder doesn't seem to directly lead to any specific problem, most likely on account of the ritual Huck performs shortly after. The mentioning of bad luck so early in the novel foreshadows impending bad events.

Superstition in Chapter 2: “Afterwards Jim said the witches bewitched him and put him in a trance, and rode him all over the State, and then set him under the trees again and hung his hat on a limb to show who done it."

Analysis: Twain ridicules American Romantics for their fascination with the supernatural by showing a confounded Jim attempting to explain what happened to his hat. It may also be a veiled attempt at religious beliefs of the day.

Superstition in Chapter 3: “I knowed might well that a drowned man didn't float on his back, but on his face. So I knowed, then, that this warn't pap, but a woman dressed up in man's clothes."

Analysis: Huck and Jim use superstitions to make sense of the world, even if it makes no sense. Huck viewed religion the same way we view his superstitions.

Superstition in Chapter 4: “Jim had a hairball as big as your fist, which had been took out of the fourth stomach of an ox, and he used to do magic with it. He said there was a spirit inside of it that knowed everything. So I went to him that night..."

Analysis: That's humorous. Note how Huck feels more comfortable going to Jim to solve his problems than he does going to Widow Douglas or Tom Sawyer.

Superstition in Chapter 8: “And Jim said you mustn't count the things you are going to cook for dinner, because that would bring bad luck. The same if you shook the table-cloth after sundown. And he said if a man owned a bee-hive, and that man died, the bees must be told about it before sun-up the next morning, or else the bees would all weaken down and quit work and die."

Analysis: The system of superstitions and rituals is quite extensive.

Superstitions in Chapter 10: 

“You said it was the worst bad luck in the world to touch a snakeskin in my hands." 
“And he said that handling a snake-skin was such awful bad luck that maybe we hadn't got to the end of it yet. He said he druther see the new moon over his left shoulder as much as a thousand times than take up a snake-skin in his hand."

Superstition in Chapter 16: “Anybody that don't believe yet, that it's foolishness to handle a snake-skin, after all that that snake-skin done for us, will believe it now, if they read on and see what more it done for us." 

Analysis: Handling a dead snake-skin is the mother of all superstitions and apparently leads Jim and Huck into all sorts of bad luck adventures.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Barack Obama Plays basketball on polling days

It is read from many newspapers that President Barack Obama appears to be superstitious. He has played basketball on election days. During the 2008 New Hampshire Democratic primary he lost to Hillary Clinton. This is criticized as Obama didn’t play basketball during that time. According to many media, it is believed that Obama played basketball as part of his Election Day ritual.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Woman Marries Dog In Traditional Ceremony In India

An 18-year-old Indian girl has married a stray dog as a part of a tribal ritual designed to ward off an evil spell. Village elders hastily organised the wedding between Mangli Munda and the canine as the teenager is believed to be bringing bad luck to her community in a remote village in Jharkhand state. Mangli's father Sri Amnmunda agreed and even found a stray dog named Sheru as a match for his daughter. And while Mangli was a hesitant bride, she believes that the ceremony will help ensure that her future human husband will have a long life.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Of Superstition

An essay by Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

Francis Bacon
IT WERE better to have no opinion of God at all, than such an opinion, as is unworthy of him. For the one is unbelief, the other is contumely; and certainly superstition is the reproach of the Deity. Plutarch saith well to that purpose: Surely (saith he) I had rather a great deal, men should say, there was no such man at all, as Plutarch, than that they should say, that there was one Plutarch, that would eat his children as soon as they were born; as the poets speak of Saturn. And as the contumely is greater towards God, so the danger is greater towards men. Atheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation; all which may be guides to an outward moral virtue, though religion were not; but superstition dismounts all these, and erecteth an absolute monarchy, in the minds of men. Therefore theism did never perturb states; for it makes men wary of themselves, as looking no further: and we see the times inclined to atheism (as the time of Augustus Caesar) were civil times. But superstition hath been the confusion of many states, and bringeth in a new primum mobile, that ravisheth all the spheres of government.The master of superstition, is the people; and in all superstition, wise men follow fools; and arguments are fitted to practice, in a reversed order. It was gravely said by some of the prelates in the Council of Trent, where the doctrine of the Schoolmen bare great sway, that the Schoolmen were like astronomers, which did feign eccentrics and epicycles, and such engines of orbs, to save the phenomena; though they knew there were no such things; and in like manner, that the Schoolmen had framed a number of subtle and intricate axioms, and theorems, to save the practice of the church. The causes of superstition are: pleasing and sensual rites and ceremonies; excess of outward and pharisaical holiness; overgreat reverence of traditions, which cannot but load the church; the stratagems of prelates, for their own ambition and lucre; the favoring too much of good intentions, which openeth the gate to conceits and novelties; the taking an aim at divine matters, by human, which cannot but breed mixture of imaginations: and, lastly, barbarous times, especially joined with calamities and disasters. Superstition, without a veil, is a deformed thing; for, as it addeth deformity to an ape, to be so like a man, so the similitude of superstition to religion, makes it the more deformed. And as wholesome meat corrupteth to little worms, so good forms and orders corrupt, into a number of petty observances. There is a superstition in avoiding superstition, when men think to do best, if they go furthest from the superstition, formerly received; therefore care would be had that (as it fareth in ill purgings) the good be not taken away with the bad; which commonly is done, when the people is the reformer.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Water Throwing Superstitions

In the memoir ‘Angela's Ashes’, water is thrown in front of the funeral procession.
In the movie ‘Angela's Ashes’, water is thrown in front of the hearse by the Irish (By the people of Ireland).
The water used to wash the corpse (dead body) before placing it in coffin was traditionally kept to be thrown in front of the hooves of the horse drawing the funeral carriage. Later, this habit developed into the symbolic act of neighbours and family throwing buckets of water as a mark of respect to the dead.
Some people in Tamil Nadu, India also throw some normal water outside their houses just after the passing of funeral procession.
In some countries, water is thrown outside the house before a baby is brought in.
At the time of arrival of some important persons water is thrown outside the house to thank God for their safe arrival and to prepare way for departure.
If anyone leaves the house to undertake a journey someone in the house throws some water outside in the direction of the travelling person. The journey will be smooth like flow of water.

‘Angela's Ashes’ is a memoir by Frank McCourt.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Eclipses are forerunners of evil in India

According to tradition, at the time of an eclipse, Rahu, the huge serpent, gulps down the sun or the moon.  Eclipse is the decease of heavenly bodies. When the monster spits out sun or moon, the solar eclipse or lunar eclipse is over. Food and drink taken during an eclipse possess poisonous properties, and people therefore abstain from eating and drinking until the eclipse is over. People bathe at the end of the eclipse to get rid of the pollution. If anyone not exposed and remains in a closed room, he is exempted from taking a bath.