Perhaps I had ambitions to be an MP - or an undertaker!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A few weeks ago, when I was preparing to write about Hallowe’en for A TOUCH OF CULTURE, I was reading about old Scottish superstitions and I found that people who lived in the County of Fife had their own ideas of what brought good fortune or bad luck.

This was of particular interest to me because my ancestors came from Fife; the earliest was born there in 1698.

Many birds and animals were thought to have supernatural powers, and there were charms associated with some insects.

A bee in the house foretold the arrival of a visitor, and it was unlucky to chase the bee out; a bee landing on your hand was a sign that riches would be yours.

A mixture of ants’ eggs and the juice of an onion placed in the ear was said to cure deafness.

And ladybirds brought good luck.

Some birds were not welcome; when the cries of the widgeon or the plover were heard, people took that as a warning of impending disaster. Others which were believed to be unlucky were the lark, the lapwing and the curlew.

Not all birds were feared though; to see a wren was a good omen and, if a swallow built a nest on your window sill, you would prosper.

Human ailments could sometimes be cured by animals; it was believed that cattle in the stable at Bethlehem breathed on the baby Jesus to keep him warm, and, because of that, the breath of a cow could cure consumption.

Of course, like all other parts of the country, Fife has its share of fishermen’s superstitions. Women, clergy and lawyers brought bad luck; on a ship it was unlucky to sneeze or to whistle; Friday sailings had to be avoided, for witches chose that day to roam the seas.

There were two other days when it was unlucky to begin a voyage - the last Monday of the year, for that was said to be the day on which Judas hanged himself, and the first Monday in April the day when Cain killed Abel.

I like this story about the village of Auchtermuchty.

The inhabitants were well-known for their strong religious beliefs. This annoyed the Devil and he determined to win them over. Disguised as a Presbyterian minister he arrived one day and set up his pulpit in the village square. His eloquence was beginning to have an effect on his listeners, when a man in the crowd noticed two cloven hoofs below the speaker’s long black robes.

When the man cried our a warning, the Devil flew up in the air and vanished, never to return.

Hence the old saying - you can never get anyone from Auchtermuchty to heed a sermon!


I had a birthday last week, and I was looking again at a newspaper which was published the day I was born. Here’s a list of some of the products advertised, with the cost in today’s currency.

20 cigarettes - 5p
Gallon of petrol - 8p
Wool cardigan - 25p
Silk stockings - 31p
Pair of shoes - £1.20
Gent’s 3-piece suit - £2.00
Lady’s coat - £3.15
Lady’s watch 18ct gold - £3.50
Wardrobe, dressing table and small chest - £21
New car - £200.00


“The Way We Were” - this video was compiled by “whirlingtamthebam.”



Because of increased interest being shown in my Pre-Raphaelite site, I’m planning a second series. Beginning on Tuesday 23rd November, I’ll be adding a painting to the blog every day. The address is -

My other blogs will continue - A Touch of Culture on Fridays, John’s Quiet Corner on Mondays, Eighty Plus on Thursdays, and Wise Men Say daily.


1 comment:

Clifford said...

Hi, just to let know we reviewed you over at the Clifford James blog - (