Mississippi February 12, 2018
11 Superstitions You’ll Only Understand If You Grew Up In Mississippi
Did you know that at one time, some Mississippians believed eating fried mice would cure small pox? Or that rubbing bacon on a wart would get rid of it? These superstitions, along with several others, were published in an
1889 edition of the Fayette Chronicle (a Jefferson County newspaper). And while they’re not widely known, there are plenty of other superstitions you’ve probably heard growing up in the Magnolia State. Ready to test your knowledge? Here are 11 superstitions most Mississippians will understand.
1. If you open a pocket knife, then you must be the one to close it.
Closing a pocket knife that was handed to you open? That’s a major no-no. Break this rule and bad luck is will follow.
2. If you play with fire, you'll pee the bed.
Did anyone’s Maw Maw not say this?
3. Set off fireworks on New Year’s Eve to ward off evil spirits.
For most of us, celebrating the New Year involves lots of fireworks. However, did you know there’s actually a reason behind the annual tradition? It’s said the loud noise from the fireworks scares away evil spirits that may be lingering around from the previous year. If you really want to make sure those pesky spirits get the hint, leave the door open at midnight while the fireworks are going off. The loud noise will draw them out, allowing for a new beginning in the New Year.
4. Eat poor on New Year's Day; eat rich the rest of the year.
For Mississippians, and most southerners for that matter, New Year’s wouldn’t be complete without dining on greens (or cabbage), black eyed peas, and corn bread. The tasty tradition, which dates back to the Civil War, is supposed to bring good luck and prosperity throughout the year. Read more about this quintessential New Year’s meal and the meaning behind each ingredient
5. New Year’s Day is all about a "clean home and full cupboard."
Ever wonder why older relatives are so insistent about tidying up before January 1st? It’s because a clean home represents a fresh start in the New Year. And according to tradition, the cleaning must be done prior to January 1st – discarding items on the first day of the New Year means you’ll end up losing things important to you. You’ll also want to make sure your pantry is full when January 1st rolls around. It’s said that a bare cupboard could result in a bare year.
6. A bottle tree in the yard will prevent evil spirits from entering the house.
Like many Southern superstitions, this one has roots in Africa. It made its way to the South via slaves, who believed evil spirits could be caught in glass bottles placed outside. Once the spirit was caught, the bottle could be corked and thrown into a river. Eventually, the bottles were put on trees and "bottle trees" became popular all across the South.
7. If you rock an empty rocking chair, you’ll invite in evil spirits.
Seeing an empty rocking chair rock is already kinda eerie, so this superstition isn’t too surprising. There’s also another version, which says that you’ll get sick within one year if you get up from a rocking chair and allow it to keep moving.
8. Hold your breath when passing a cemetery; otherwise, you could let a spirit in.
Common throughout the South, this superstition says that if you
do breathe while passing a graveyard, an evil force or the spirit of someone who recently died will enter your body.
9. If the sun shines during a rain shower, the Devil’s beating his wife.
Even though this phrase is used almost exclusively in the South now, it actually originated in France. So, just what does it mean? According to superstition, beautiful sunny days infuriate the Devil. As a way to get over his anger, he’ll beat his wife until she cries huge tears, which turn into rain drops.
10. If smoke blows down the chimney, expect bad weather.
Smoke coming in through the chimney usually means someone forgot to open the flue (uh oh). But it can also signify that bad weather is on the way, which actually makes sense since changes in wind usually precede bad weather.
11. Don’t eat both ends of a bread loaf.
If you eat both of the end pieces – rather than an end piece, the middle, and the other end piece – you’ll have trouble making ends meet.
So, did you hear these superstitions growing up? Have any to add? Tell us in the comments section.
If you enjoyed this, check out “
Here Are 11 Crazy Traditions You’ll Totally Get If You’re From Mississippi.“