Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Old Wives' Tales

 Old wives’ tales seem to be a thing of the past these days as they’re not used in our normal day-to-day lives.

In a very enjoyable book that I just finished, the main character gives a quote about a red sky in the morning, "Red in the morning, sailors take warning.” Her daughter-in-law thinks she may have suffered a stroke because she's rambling about red skies.

After reading that, I got to wondering … how many old wives’ tales did I remember from my childhood and what would people think if I went around quoting old sayings.

I’m sorry to say, I don’t recall many tales. I do, however, recall my grandmother having a saying for almost anything that happened.

The problem then, I was young and could have cared less about her silly sayings. The problem now, because I didn’t pay attention, I lost a piece of my family’s history and tradition of passing along old wives’ tales.

I remember the sailor’s tale - “Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning; red sky at night, sailors’ delight.” Another one I remember is about playing in fire - “Don’t play in the fire or you’ll pee in the bed.” And one from school, “Step on a crack, break your mother’s back.”

I wondered if there was somewhere I could find a collection of old sayings so I used Google. With Google, all seems possible.

There are numerous sites out there dedicated to old wives’ tales. Looking over them, I remembered a few and found a lot I had never heard of.

Maybe the tales won’t be lost even though they aren’t used in daily life as they once were.

The delightful mystery I finished, by the way, is “Pretty is As Pretty Dies” by Elizabeth Spann Craig. My plans are to post my review of it here on Sunday. Check back to read more.

Do you have any old wives’ tales that you remember from your childhood? Have you passed those tales onto your children or younger members of your family? "What was their reaction to your tales?

And I was just reminded that today is Veterans Day. Give thanks to all who have and will serve our country.


  1. Thanks for the plug! I really appreciate it.

    You know, it seems like there are lots of them that I still pass on: itchy nose means company coming, etc. And a mix of superstitions, too...throwing spilled salt over one shoulder. There's a part of me that listens to that nonsense. :)

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. Listening to that nonsense is a good thing. And, I had forgotten the one about the itchy nose. Oh, Myrtle is a joy.

  3. Great post! Unfortunately, I don't remember many either. But one that I'll probably never forget is that an itchy palm means money will come your way--every time my aunt would stratch her palm she would say that.
    Ah - memories. :)

  4. I had forgotten that one too Jessica. It does help to stir the memories sometimes.


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