5 Insane 19th-Century Superstitions About Love and Marriage
I’ve been happily married and out of the dating game for a long, long time, but I wanted to offer some helpful hints for romance and marriage for Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, after doing some research I determined that so-called expert advice is next to useless. In lieu of that, I’ve consulted one of my favorite books, Iona Opie and Moira Tatem’s sadly out of print Dictionary of Superstitions, for romantic advice from the 19th century British Isles. Enjoy!
For Dealing With That No Good, Cheating Ex:
“The sexton of St. Mary’s watched her rake up the dirt with her foot, and after depositing something in the ground, carefully cover it up. He opened the place and found a hare’s heart in which 385 pins were stuck, buried. It is an old superstition in this country that if a person shall bury a hare’s heart stuck full of pins near a newly-made grave, as the heart decays, the health of the faithless swain will decline, and that he will die when it is mouldered into dust.”
How did she fit 385 pins in a rabbit’s heart? And did the sexton count them himself? You know what? Don’t do this.
For Your Own Safety, Avoid This Guy:
“To be in love with a charming young lady and to have her all to yourself in a solitary graveyard under the light of the moon, presents an irresistible temptation for taking a kiss, especially if the kiss is to be a farewell kiss for days and for years… but sundry superstitious gossips, hearing of this afterwards, assured Ellen that it must be unlucky to safe farewell amidst graves.”
I’m thinking that Ellen’s friends told her that it’s super unlucky to go make out in the graveyard with Mr. Moonlight there. Run, girl. RUN.
For a Happy Engagement:
“If you can, within three days of becoming engaged, seize a snail by its horns and throw it over your left shoulder, you will reduce the roughness of the road which true love is said to journey along.”
Take Things Slow. Very Slow.
For Extra Luck at Your Wedding:
“If a wedding guest should step in any kind of filth on the way to the house, on no account should it be wiped off, it being considered unlucky to do so”
Another old saying attests to the belief in fortunate feces: “Where there’s muck, there’s luck.”
Don’t be offended if the bride and groom ask you to leave your shoes at the door, though.
For Safety’s Sake When Leaving the Wedding:
“Should the bride and groom encounter a toad, frog, or other reptile (sic), then terrible misfortunes will follow them.”