Superstition – Unlucky Plants Revisited

I wrote this post in the spring of 2014 and rather to my surprise it has become one of my most viewed posts ever. Who knew that so many people were searching for articles about unlucky plants? Certainly not me! Anyway I thought that I would run it again for those of you that are interested in the subject or just like pictures of pretty blossoms.

Two old nectarine trees next to our "rustic" shed.
Two old nectarine trees next to our “rustic” shed.

Our old nectarine trees are blossoming again. I love seeing blossoms on trees. We have some lovely flowering trees in Australia  wattle, bottlebrush and flame trees to mention just a few of the native plants.  I always look forward to the apple blossom which comes and goes so quickly that you could easily miss it even in orchard laden Tassie.  I always think that pink blossoms would look lovely in a vase with daffodils but I never pick any. Why? Superstition.

Apple orchard, Ranelagh Tasmania
Apple orchard, Ranelagh Tasmania
apple blossoms on our tree.
apple blossoms on our tree.

My mother always used to tell us “Don’t bring blossoms into the house. It’s bad luck.” Well mum thought a lot of things were bad luck but she was mum, we didn’t argue.

Some of her superstitions were:

  • breaking mirrors – seven years bad luck unless you broke a match straight away
  • walking under a ladder is bad luck – well that makes sense, something could fall on your head or you might dislodge it (bad luck for the person on the ladder)
  • spilling salt  is unlucky-you are supposed to throw some over your shoulder if you do that. I can never remember which shoulder though so I do both.
  • black cats are unlucky – I love black cats and the worst bad luck I’ve had  with them is that mine died way too young.
  • peacock feathers in the house are unlucky – I never found out why this is unlucky, maybe they give you the “evil eye”? Some further research required here I think.
  • Putting new shoes on the table is unlucky – Don’t know where this one came from but bet it was invented by somebody’s mother.
  • Opening an umbrella indoors is unlucky – I don’t know where this one came from either. It’s certainly bad luck to be standing too close to someone opening one. You can get poked in the eye.

I don’t know if I really believe all these things myself but from habit I do what mum did – except the one about cats. I’d have another black cat any time.

I wondered about origin of the “no blossoms in the house” myth and googled it just now. I found that it was pretty widespread amongst my mother’s and grandmother’s generations. A lot of superstitions involve particular plants one of the main offenders being hawthorn or as it’s sometimes called in England, may blossom.

Common hawthorn.jpg
Common hawthorn“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

This has just reminded me that two relatives in mum’s family were called May and Blossom.

Mauve lilac came in for a lot of mentions too and one superstition that I had never heard of was about having red and white flowers in the same vase. Supposedly they signify blood and bandages. I don’t know if mum had heard of that one as I am sure we did that many times when we had red and white roses growing. I also know that mum was not superstitious about honeysuckle because she loved perfumed plants and would often bring it in.

Plant Lore is a website that collects folklore about this sort of thing and it has some interesting information on it.  Most of the responders to their “Unlucky Plants” survey seem to be like me, warned off by older family members with no real explanation given. “Just don’t do it. Because I say so!”

One writer, a former nurse said that she’d been told not to put red and white flowers together on pain of dismissal. Even in the 1960s this seems a remarkably superstitious attitude and a harsh penalty. Although this is an English site I’m sure that there is a lot of folklore about plants from other countries too.


Red and white flowers are considered unlucky
Red and white flowers are considered unlucky

As far as I know it’s not unlucky to post pictures of blossoms on your website so here are a couple more pictures of flowering trees. Will I be cutting some of my pretty blossoms to bring indoors? Probably not.

Tulip Magnolias

nectarine blossom
nectarine blossom




Which Way to go, that is the question.

RDP: March

March Madness

March is here already, it always seems to be in an unseemly rush to take over from February.

White rabbit with red eyes

When I was little mum used to tell us that if we said “White rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits.” first thing in the morning on the first day of each month it would bring good luck.  This comes from an old superstition which even Mr. Google doesn’t adequately explain. It did originate in Britain and apparently was quite popular with RAF aircrews during WWII although it is a much older tradition than that.

Of course, mum liked to add her own bit of whimsy to it and instructed us that in March we should also say “March Hare and Mad Hatter.”

That made me think about other sayings and superstitions associated with March.

One that I recall from childhood is “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” It seemed like a pretty good description of British weather to me.

The Lion and the Lamb - panoramio

I also remember “Beware the Ides of March”. I had no idea what Ides were but I knew they didn’t do Julius Caesar any good. Apparently, Ides were days when debts were settled so perhaps this one is really “Beware of the tax man.” We can all relate to that.

Another more popular tradition associated with March is celebrating St Patrick’s Day. In Australia, it’s considered a bit of fun, an excuse for a pub crawl and wearing green but we don’t do it in such a big way as the USA. I suspect the celebrations there might be even bigger than those in Ireland.

Finally here is a link to another article about superstitions associated with March is it really the oddest month of the year?

Gambling and Luck

Last year I wrote a post about superstition and in particular about unlucky plants. It has been a very popular post so I guess a lot of people still believe in the old sayings or at least are fascinated by them.

Tonight there is a big Lotto draw on and I have a ticket. I don’t often buy lotto tickets because I know that the odds of winning any prize let alone the jackpot are next to none. However, sometimes when things are a bit rough the small outlay for a ticket gives me hope and if nothing else at least a lot of “wouldn’t it be nice ..” conversations and daydreams.
Tattersalls - 18 Lucky Lotto, Springvale

I’m not a gambler, that’s why I don’t care for the stock market :). I know that you can’t get rich just from buying lotto tickets or from playing the “Pokies”. I do sometimes play on poker machines on our very occasional trips to pubs or casinos but I look on it as entertainment and a bit of a challenge to see if I can make the bells and whistles go off. I set aside an amount of money I am prepared to lose and when it is gone I stop. If I win I take the majority of my winnings straight out of the machine and start over with a couple of dollars. For me a win is coming away with the same amount of money I arrived with after a couple of hours of play anything else is a bonus.

Las Vegas slot machines.jpg
Las Vegas slot machines“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia.

I’ve never tried casino games, mainly because I am incapable of remembering how to play most card games. I’ll stick to “Old Maid” and “Fish”. I’ve walked around the gaming areas of casinos in several Australian cities and to me the only people who look like they are having fun are the ones playing “Two Up” although I don’t think the odds of winning at that are great either.

Roulette happens much too fast for me. I’ve read of people who try to play roulette systems. My husband has a book called “Thirteen Against The Bank” by Norman Leigh. It’s his account of taking a team of British players to France to play roulette with a system he’d discovered. It was a very interesting book and they did win a lot of money before being expelled from the casino. It seems that if you have a succesful system for roulette you will inevitably be banned even though to me at least it doesn’t seem like cheating.

I used to take an interest in horse racing and place the odd bet but these days I don’t even bet on the Melbourne Cup. Once a year punters might choose to go with lucky numbers, lucky colours or because they like the horse’s name. I admit to doing that but I would also look at the recent form of the horse. I’ve come to believe that horse racing is cruel though so I don’t bet any more. Same goes for greyhound racing.

Race 4 - Lavazza Short Black (1400m)  (2013 Melbourne Cup)

So if I want to get rich winning lotto tonight what lucky symbols could I use to help me?

  • The plant world offers the four leafed clover. They are not common so good luck finding one.
  • Horseshoes are meant to be lucky but don’t turn them the wrong way up or your luck will fall out. Horseshoes are not something you find lying about in the street these days.
  • Some people swear by a rabbit’s foot to bring good luck. I wouldn’t fancy it and it certainly isn’t lucky for the rabbit unless it has health care.
  • Seeing a rainbow is meant to be lucky. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful ones but I’m still poor, on the other hand I have my health.
  • Lucky numbers. Numerology is an interesting subject. I do tend to use the same numbers for lotto tickets thinking that if I change them the old ones will come up. I don’t use numerology for this. I generally pick numbers of favourite sports people. I nearly always include the number 5 which is my favourite number.

    Rainbow in a dark sky.
    Rainbow in a dark sky.

    I will also be keeping my fingers crossed, just in case!

Further Reading