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Monday, July 18, 2011

Bad Omens in Nebraska

The signs, omens, and portents in the following collection have been reported by inhabitants of Nebraska and most of them are beliefs or sayings commonly known in the central western region. Although the list must be far from complete, it is probably representative of the bulk of current (1933) superstitions of Nebraskans.

  1. If a dog howls at night, it is a sign of the death of a friend.
  2. If a dog sits and howls at the moon, it is a sign of death.
  3. One death will be followed almost immediately by two more in the family or the neighborhood.
  4. If a bird flies into the house, it is a sign of a death in the family.
  5. If an owl hoots near the house, some one in the house will die within a short time.
  6. If an owl hoots three times on the property of anyone, it is a sign that there will be a death in the family of the person who owns the land.
  7. If you hear an owl hoot at night, you will soon hear of the death of a friend.
  8. If a loaf of bread be found upside down, there will be a death in the family.
  9. If a light on the order of a will-o'-the-wisp passes around the house, it is the sign. of a death in the house within a short time.
  10. If a mirror falls, there will be a death in the family.
  11. If you break a mirror, there will be a death in the family within a year.
  12. If two people in a fanlily die within a year, a third death will occur before the year is out,
  13. If a child js unusually bright and good, it will die.
  14. If a cock crows at midnight, it is a sign that the death angel is passing overhead.
  15. If you sneeze before breakfast on Sunday morning, you will hear of a death before the end of the week.
  16. If lighted candles are placed at each plate, the person at whose place the candle burns longest wiIl live longest, the one whose candle goes out first will be the first to die.
  17. If a bird pecks at the window of a home, it' is a sign of a death in that family within a year.
  18. If a ticking sound is heard in the wall, a death may be expected in the family.
  19. A sparrow flying around the house is a sign there will soon be three deaths in the family.
  20. If you meet a funeral, there wiIl be a death in the family.
  21. The first person the cat looks at after washing its face will die soon.
  22. If it rains into an open grave, another member of the family will die within a year.
  23. If a baby cuts its upper teeth first, it is digging its own grave; that is, it will soon die.
  24. If you look into a mirror at a funeral, you will be dead before the end of a year.
  25. If three lights are accidentally placed on the table, it is a sign of a death in the family before the end of the year.
  26. To carry a pan of coals through the house is a sign that there wilI be a death in the family.
  27. Carrying a spade through the house forebodes a death.
  28. A spade, a hoe, or a shovel should not be brought into the house. If they are, there will be a death in the family.
  29. To carry a sharp instrument through the house is a sign of a death in the family.
  30. If you open an umbrella in the house, some one in the family will die soon.
  31. If you count the cars of a freight train, some one in your family will die.
  32. If you count the number of carriages in a funeral procession, some one in your family will die soon.
  33. If a person counts the number of cars in a funeral procession, he will cause a death in his family within a month.
  34. After a funeral the first person to leave the graveyard will be the first to go back; that is, to die.
  35. If you cross in front of a funeral procession, there will be a death in the family.
  36. A funeral on Sunday means another death in a short time unless a wedding follows the funeral.
  37. If you knock at your own door, some one in the family will die.
  38. If a baby under a year old sees itself in a mirror, it will die before the year is over.
  39. If you pass anyone cn the stairs going in the opposite direction, there will be a death in the family.
  40. If all the members of the family are not home at Thanksgiving, there will be one death in the family before the nest Thanksgiving.
  41. If a child is named for someone who is dead, he will die young.
  42. A green Christmas makes a black graveyard.
  43. To rock an empty rocking-chair forebodes a death.
  44. If you break a needle while making a garment, you will hear of a death before the garment is worn out.
  45. If a hen crows, there will be a death in the family.
  46. To grieve over the death of a pet is a sign of a death in the family.
  47. If a funeral procession crosses your path, you will have bad luck.
  48. If it rains during the funeral procession, the relatives of the deceased will have bad luck.
  49. It is bad luck to cross between the carriages of a funeral procession.
  50. If a tug comes unhooked going to the grave, it is a sign of bad luck.
  51. It is bad luck to count the cars in a freight train.
  52. It is bad luck to turn around in a car, if you are a member of the funeral party.
  53. Friday the thirteenth is an unlucky date.
  54. It is bad luck to begin a job on Friday.
  55. If a garment is begun on Friday, you won't live to wear it out.
  56. If a garment is begun on Friday, you won't live to finish it.
  57. Never cut out a garment on Friday, unless you finish it that day. Otherwise you will have bad luck.
  58. It is bad luck to set out on a journey on the thirteenth.
  59. If you break a looking glass, it means bad luck for seven years.
  60. Don't sweep dust out of the door on Monday. It brings bad luck.
  61. You must not sweep with a broom across the threshold after dark or you will sweep away your luck.
  62. If you sweep dust over the threshoId after dark, you are sweeping away your wealth.
  63. Don't sweep dust out of the door on New Year's day. It is bad luck.
  64. It is bad luck to move a broom.
  65. When sweeping the floor, don't brush the broom against any one else or it will bring that person the worst of luck.
  66. It is bad luck to carry ashes out after sundown.
  67. It is bad luck to carry a hoe through the house.
  68. Carrying a garden tool through the house is a sign of ill luck.
  69. If you drop a fork, you will have bad luck.
  70. If you drop a knife, you will have bad luck.
  71. It is bad luck to spill the salt.
  72. It is bad luck to have a picture hanging crooked in the house.
  73. It is bad luck not to have the Christmas tree down by January 2.
  74. It is bad luck to rock an enipty chair.
  75. It is bad luck to watch a person out of sight.
  76. It is bad luck to tell any one "good luck".
  77. Never walk under a ladder. It is the worst of luck.
  78. It is load luck to shut an open gate as you pass by.
  79. If you see the moon over your left shoulder, you wiIl have had luck.
  80. It is bad Iuck to carry a two-dolIar bill.
  81. If you pick up a pin with the head toward you, you mill have bad luck.
  82. The opal brings misfortune except to those born in October.
  83. If the first person to enter your house on New Year's day is a woman, you will have bad luck for the year.
  84. If Christmas day on a Sunday fall, A troublous winter we shall have all.
  85. Wearing pearls is a sign of sadness or misfortune.
  86. It is unlucky to seat thirteen people at the table.
  87. If you put a garment on wrong side out, Do not change it back all day. For that would drive your luck away.
Found in: Signs, Omens, and Portents in Nebraska Folklore

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