The culture and traditions discussed by informants do not solely concern calendar events. A number of local superstitions and sayings were also recorded. Images of horse shoes and luck stones displayed outside people’s homes in Yorkshire were photographed and included in the Folk Life Survey. These were considered to be lucky or protective charms.

A door

Images of horse shoes and luck stones were considered to be lucky or protective charms.

‘Luck Stone and Horse Shoe.’(LAVC/PHO/P1673) by Werner Kissling, Askrigg, North Yorkshire

A stone hanging over a window

‘Luck stone’ (LAVC/PHO/P1668) by Werner Kissling, West Burton, North Yorkshire

Some superstitions had a more sinister twist. Children in Lancashire were warned of Jenny or Jinny Green Teeth, a malevolent water spirit who would pull them in if they got too close to the water’s edge. This was no doubt an effective, if frightening, way of keeping them safe! Even darker was the belief that the sighting of a black dog in Lancashire was a sign of imminent death.

Have your say

See if you have heard any of the following sayings or superstitions contributed by informants:

  • Any plants, except peas, should be planted when the moon is on the rise (Lincolnshire)
  • When gorse is out of flower, kissing is out of season (Lincolnshire)
  • Place a bough of hawthorn in the loft on Ascension Day to prevent lightning from striking (Staffordshire)
  • If you put a wishbone under your pillow at night, your dreams will come true (Northumberland)
  • Never eat broad beans on a Sunday (Hertfordshire)