Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sweep this! Southern broom superstitions

            I had a friend who freaked out when she spotted me sweeping my living room one night and attempted to sweep the dust out the door. She grabbed my hand and instantly informed me that sweeping out dust after dark invited bad luck and should be avoided at all costs.
            That’s just one of the many superstitions revolving around brooms, many of which are predominant in the South.
            For instance, I’ve heard that if a person sweeps a broom across your feet, you must spit upon the broom or risk either going to jail or having bad luck. Variations on this theme include being hit with the broom while someone is sweeping; again, you must spit on the broom in question or risk bad fortune.
            Sweeping around people or in front of them has also been known to cause that person bad luck. I think the idea here is that you are sweeping away their good energy or sweeping them away.
            Other sweeping superstitions include:
            Don’t sweep out a house on Fridays.
            Don’t sweep out a house on New Year’s Day.
            If you sweep under a sick person’s bed, you will get bad luck.
            If you sweep under someone's feet, they will never marry. 
            If you move, don’t bring the old broom with you or it will bring bad luck.            
            Never step over a broom, even if you have to cross over it to pick it up. Some people place a broom across the door, especially on Halloween, to keep witches from entering the house, assuming that they, too, know that stepping over a broom brings back luck.
            Do you have a broom superstition? Let us know.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

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