Some Traditional Superstitions
Like most peoples, the Irish have developed over the centuries a rich folklore reflecting their closeness to the land and nature. Belief in supernatural forces and beings -- fairies, leprechauns, banshees and the like -- helped them explain the "why" behind many events of everyday life.
Today, phenomena that might once have been attributed to "badluck" incurred by offending some spirit have been explained by modern science. Still, in the rural West of Ireland, particularly, some superstitions linger. Even where a person doesn't really "believe" seriously that a certain act may bring bad luck, he will often avoid doing it "just in case" there is some truth to an ancient belief.
Here is a small selection of traditional superstitions........
Carrying a wizened potato in your hip pocket will help relieve your rheumatism.
While butter is being churned, there must be no bad words, no arguing and no drinking or singing. Otherwise the butter will not come to the cream.
Even today, fishermen in the North of Ireland avoid directly using certain words, including pig, priest and rat.
On a Monday morning, fishermen will refuse, with a laugh, to give you a light for your pipe, lest they be giving away their luck for the week.
Never tear down an old house, or the spirits of those who once lived in it will never rest.
When moving to a new home, take a bucketful of turf embers from the hearth of the old house to kindle the fire in the new home. (Note: As in most cultures, fire had a special, primeval value in Irish tradition. It was not uncommon for families to have kept fires burning continuously in their hearths for 200 years or longer. The embers would be banked up at night and stoked with fresh turf in the morning. This extreme care in keeping fires alight may be related to an old Gaelic proverb from the days of the Druids; "The wee people [fairies] will go off with the fire if it goes out.")
Green is considered, ironically, to be an unlucky color.
Crosses woven from straw or rushes should be hung over the doors inside a house on the eve of St. Brigid's Day, both to honor the saint and to ward off ill fortune and evil.
The farmyard rooster's crowing is a welcome sign that a new day has dawned, but to hear him crow during the night is very unlucky.
It is an omen of GOOD luck for a black cat to cross your path!