Hit me in the head with a horseshoe

Published 10:29 am Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It was one of those nights when sleep was slow to arrive in my bed.

As I tossed and turned for what felt like an eternity, I finally surrendered to my restlessness, arose from bed and made my way to the living room.

There, the television beckoned. I felt comfortable in the fact that maybe those electronic images emitting from the “tube” would act in the same way as a warm glass of milk – bringing forth some much-needed sleep.

The channel surfing began. I watched Emeril for a while until I grew tired of his endless love affair with garlic. I flipped over to ESPN2, only to find a Texas Hold’Em event I had seen earlier. Even my favorite – The Speed Channel – failed to hold my attention.

Finally, after 15-to-20 minutes, I settled in on The History Channel. They were doing a piece on superstitions. I was hooked.

Why is Friday the 13th deemed unlucky? It is said that Christ was crucified on Friday and the number of guests at the party of the Last Supper was 13, with the 13th guest being Judas, the traitor.

What about black cats, or at least the ones PETA have yet to find? According to ancient Egyptian lore, the Goddess Bast was a black, female cat. Christians, wanting to rid society of all traces of other religions, convinced the ignorant that black cats were demons in disguise and should thus be destroyed. Being demons, a black cat crossing your path would create a barrier of evil, cutting you off from God and blocking the entrance to heaven.

It’s deemed as bad luck if a bat flies into your house; an owl hooting three times; three butterflies flying together; glancing at the new moon over your left shoulder; finding a five-leaf clover; putting a shirt on inside out; hearing a rooster crow at night; cutting your nails on a Friday and putting a hat on a bed.

But what about good luck? Knocking on wood came from a belief that good spirits lived in trees. Thusly, by knocking on anything made from wood, we could call upon these spirits for protection against misfortune.

While a bat making its way into your house is bad luck, a robin performing that same feat is considered good luck, as is finding a frog in your home.

Good luck superstitions also include sneezing three times before breakfast; cutting your hair during a storm; sleeping facing south; finding a ladybug on you and picking up a piece of coal that has fallen in your path.

According to those who believe in such things, if a bee enters your home, it’s a sign that you will soon have a visitor. If you kill the bee, you will have bad luck, or the visitor will be unpleasant. If a swarm of bees settles on your roof, it’s an omen that the house will burn down.

If you sweep trash out the door after dark, it will bring a stranger to visit. If someone is sweeping the floor and sweeps over your feet, you’ll never get married.

A horseshoe, hung above a doorway, will bring good luck to a home. In most of Europe, protective horseshoes are placed in a downward facing position, but in some parts of Ireland and Britain people believe that the shoes must be turned upward or ‘the luck will run out.”

A horseshoe hung in the bedroom will keep nightmares away.

Better yet, I think I’ll stop watching late-night TV and have my wife hit me in the head with a horseshoe – maybe that will send me off to sleep.

Cal Bryant is Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be reached at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.