Rural Folklore, Superstition and Words of Wisdom

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Around my house, there is certainly something special about the word “home.”

Home is where I want to return when I’m somewhere else, where I want to be when nighttime falls. Home means family, warmth, love and, above all, a place where you are accepted for what you are, no matter what. Growing up in rural Tennessee, my home was where my “traditional education” was taught, which included classes in work ethics, morals, religious faith, sense of humor, family dedication – and the use of everyday folklore or country sayings.

In this day of computers, modern science and economic confusion, there is one fact that remains constant in the rural countryside of Tennessee: Folklore and superstitions of one generation continue to be passed down to the next.

Just as in years gone by, “old wives’ tales” still help many of us explain life and why some things happen. As a young child, those little sayings became a part of my upbringing.

Whether they are fact or fiction, these old wives’ tales are here to stay, even for the more cynical nonbelievers. I may not believe all of them, but I don’t want to take a chance, just in case there may be something to them.

Over the years, I have filed away several of the familiar and not-so-familiar tales.

At times I have even shared them with my readers, which is only for information and not to convince anyone that they are totally true. That’s my disclaimer and I’m sticking to it.

For example, if a woman carries an acorn in her pocket, she’ll never grow old. I know several who have tried this, and the only thing they have accomplished is preventing a lot of oak trees from growing old.

Another one says that sleeping in the moonlight can cause insanity. Which reminds me: I have got to get that shade in our bedroom fixed.

Now if you happen to be a single woman, there are a few things you may do to find Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong, whichever the case may be. (Remember, I said these are not totally foolproof.)

One is to put a four-leaf clover on your door and you’ll marry the first bachelor who comes in the door. If this were true, four-leaf clovers would soon become as much a curse to bachelors as garlic is to vampires.

If you want to know the name of your husband-to-be, put a snail in a plate of cornmeal and leave it overnight. The snail will spell the initials of the person you’ll marry. (If the snail does not write out the initials, he is already nicely breaded, so enjoy some escargot.)

On another topic, trees with the underside of their leaves showing indicate a bad storm is on its way. (A tree without leaves and limbs, however, means a bad storm has already happened.)

The one that always confuses me, though, is how to tell the weather from a wooly worm.

I never know if it is going to be a bad winter if he is all black or all orange. So I looked it up. Here is what a famous folklore book said: The black band on the wooly worm is wide if there is going to be a bad winter. The more black than brown he is, and/or the wider the black stripe, the worse the winter. If he’s black in front, the bad weather is to come; and if he’s black behind, the worst weather is past. If he’s brown at both ends and orange in the middle, the winter will be mild. It’ll be a bad winter if you see him crawling before the first frost.

However, if he is flat, it means he is too slow for a fast car.

That last one is mine. And it probably makes about as much sense as the others.

1 Comment

  1. Mark Henry

    January 31, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    thanks for sharing 🙂

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