Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas superstitions collected by Edwin and Mona Radford

Encyclopædia of Superstitions is an excellent book (and a dandy browsing book) that was researched and written by Edwin and Mona A. Radford and published in 1949 by Philosophical Library of New York.1

In the preface, the authors write: "Some years ago the idea occurred to us that there was need for a work containing as complete a collection as possible of British superstitions presented in encyclopædic form, giving easy and quick reference to the reader. ... We accordingly began collecting and authenticating all the superstitions we could trace. The task occupied more than four years, and is brought to conclusion with the presentation of this volume, containing more than two thousand superstitions of Britain ranging over the past six hundred years, and extending down to the present day."

Their resulting book has been praised over the decades. Going through many editions, it has a five-star rating on Amazon and a 3.94 rating (out of 5.0) on Goodreads.

I thought it would be fun to share some the Christmas-themed superstitions presented in the Radfords' book. And perhaps this will even inspire you to track down your own copy of this tome. Used copies are reasonably priced (and make great holiday gifts).

  • A person born on Christmas Day will never be hanged.
  • A dark-haired man should be the first to enter a house on Christmas morning.
  • In Herefordshire — in the Blakemere and Weobley areas — no woman was allowed to enter a house on Christmas Day. Helps who were to assist at the Christmas Day parties had to sleep in the house on Christmas Eve. They could go home on Christmas morning if they so desired and then re-enter, but that applied only to those who had slept in the house during the previous night.
  • Evergreens should be taken down on Old Christmas Day (6th January) of ill-luck will follow.
  • To take holly into the house before Christmas Eve is to invite bad luck.
  • If a girl walks backwards to a pear tree on Christmas Eve, and walks round the tree three times, she will see an image of her future husband.
  • Fairies meet at the bottom of mines on Christmas Eve and perform a Mass in celebration of the birth of Christ.
  • Ghosts never appear on Christmas Eve.2
  • A midlands superstition was that a piece of Christmas mistletoe, tied in a bag and worn round the neck, would protect the wearer against witchcraft.

1. Philosophical Library was founded in 1941 by Romanian-born philosopher and scholar Dagobert D. Runes. That is a really great name. Almost as good as Svarsh Corduroy.
2. It seems that Charles Dickens was unaware of this.

Photo Shoot Outtake

1 comment:

  1. I need to find the bottom of a mine ... this I've got to see :)