Black Cats & Four-Leaf Clovers: The Origins of Old Wives' Tales and Superstitions in Our Everyday Lives

Front Cover
Penguin, Sep 7, 2010 - Reference - 272 pages
2 Reviews
Cross your fingers, knock on wood, and clutch your rabbit's foot a little tighter.

In this charming and endlessly diverting book, Harry Oliver delves into the stories behind the traditions and superstitions that permeate our everyday lives, unearthing the fascinating histories of these weird and wonderful notions. So before you search for any more four-leaf clovers, worry about the next Friday the 13th, or avoid walking under any ladders, dip into this amazing tome and discover:
*Why breaking a mirror brings seven years of bad luck.
*The best day of the week to ask for a favor.
*Why you should never jump over a child in Turkey.

What people are saying - Write a review


User Review  - evilcomplainer -

What s neat about this book you ask The background on how some of the superstitions of today might have come about. So grab your lucky rabbits foot and gather round the book.... hee Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - EctopicBrain - LibraryThing

Not much info here, mostly saying "no one knows the origin". That would be quite all right if there was humor or graphics to add interest. Read full review


Break a leg
Eating and drinking food made with lemon or milk before a performance
Whistling during a performance brings bad luck
Never speak a plays last line during rehearsals
Walking under a ladder
Finding money
Parting at bridges crossing bridges and walking under them
Dont swap fishing rods
A redhead at a baseball game brings luck
Hunchbacks are lucky for a gambler
No sex before a match
Red sky at night
Pot of gold at the end of the rainbow
Lightning never strikes twice
Lowflying swallows

Having a woman on board a ship
Never light three cigarettes with the same match
Crossing fingers
Throwing a shoe for luck
Making the sign of the cross
Breaking a mirror
Hanging a horseshoe over a threshold
Opening an umbrella indoors
Turning a calendar page before the new month has started
Making sure there is always something in the oven
New clothes on Easter
Black cats are lucky
Cats have nine lives
Transferring disease to a cat or dog
The first cuckoo of spring
Telling the bees
Killing a robin brings bad luck
Stepping on a beetle brings rain
Hedgehogs steal cows milk
Cocks crowing out of season
Handling a caterpillar
Finding a ladybug brings luck
Babies are delivered by storks
Animals kneel on Christmas Eve
The evil eye
Red hair
Right vs left hand
Nails and hair
Love divination
A kiss from a dark man means a wedding
The morning of the wedding
On the way to the church
The wedding dress
Tying the knot
Giving away the bride
Wedding curses
Catching the brides bouquet
Tying shoes to the wedding car
Carrying over the threshold
Hollow bread signifies death
Dont throw crumbs on the fire
Butterside down
An even number of eggs is unlucky
Yeast in a dream means pregnancy
Peas are lucky
An eel prevents drunkenness
A joint of meat indicates fortunes
Witches can prevent butter from churning
Oysters are an aphrodisiac
When cows lie down it means rain
The new moon
Easing the pain of childbirth
Good and bad times to be born
Babies born with the caul on their heads
Crossdressing confuses the devil
The changeling
Baptism and naming rituals
A good death
Good days of the year to die
Touching a corpse brings luck
Sin eaters
Giving sharp objects especially knives or scissors
Giving bouquets of red and white flowers
Gifts for friends
Gifts for a newborn baby at his or her baptism
The first person seen on New Years Day should be male
Fires must be kept burning on New Years Eve
The rising sun dances on Easter Sunday
Christmas decorations should be taken down by Twelfth Night
Knocking on the henhouse at Christmas
Washing in the dew on May Day is good for the skin
Shrove Tuesday pancakes are lucky
Wassailing on Twelfth Night
Ascension Day
Reading tea leaves
The Ouija board
Chocolate causes acne
Masturbating will make your hands hairy or make you mentally ill or infertileyou might even go blind
Hair myths
Fourleaf clover
Middle Eastern talismans protecting against the evil eye
Native American Hopi and Zuni fetishes
Italian amulet against malocchio
The Khamsa Fatimas Hand or the Hamesh Miriams Hand
Praising a baby in China
Meeting a nun on the street in Italy
Chewing gum at night in Turkey

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About the author (2010)

Writer and editor Harry Oliver holds a fascination for the quirky stories behind aspects of our everyday lives. The author of Bubble Gum and Hula Hoops and Flying by the Seat of Your Pants, he lives and works in London.

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