One of the reasons I write historical romances is because I love unearthing unusual or odd tidbits about the eras and people I write about. The Scottish have always fascinated me, and in addition to being a proud, independent people, they are quite superstitious too.
Though superstitions and the rituals associated with them tend to increase the farther north you travel in Scotland, there wasn’t a class distinction between those who believed in omens and good or bad luck. Wealthy, poor, educated, illiterate, peers and paupers alike embraced and practiced the same superstitions.
Here are a few of the most widely held beliefs:
It was bad luck to see a pig on the way to your wedding or take them on a fishing boat. (Um, I’m not sure why you’d ever take a pig on a fishing boat.)
On the other hand, a silver coin in your shoe or a sprig of white heather would bring good luck on your wedding day.
It was good luck to be first-footed by a dark-haired person, but bad luck to be first-footed by a fair-haired one. (Think invading Vikings). First footing is a Hogmanay tradition whereby the first visitor after the New Year brings a gift.
For good luck, a child’s first tooth was to be rolled up in a sheet of paper lined with salt and hidden in a hole made by a mouse. (Not sure what the connection to a mouse-hole is, but I still have my children’s teeth. Weird, I know.)
Scissors shouldn’t be used to cut a baby’s nails else they become dishonest later in life. If you dropped a pair of scissors, someone else needed to pick them up, and you must hold the blade of scissors when passing them to someone else or you might cut the friendship between you. (Or maybe, you just don’t want to stab yourself with them by accident.)
When a woman was about to give birth, all the knots in a woman’s clothing had to be untied and the doors and windows unlocked to make the baby’s passage easier. (Wish I’d known that was all there was to it.)
Speaking of babies, do not, under any circumstances, praise the babe or you run the risk of attracting fairies. A cradle constructed of rowan or oak with iron nails helps protect against the evil-intended winged intruders in case a giddy parent can’t contain their joy.
The Scot’s have some unusual burial traditions too.
At the moment of death, the windows are thrown open for an instant so the dead person’s soul can easily depart, but then the windows are promptly closed so the soul cannot return. For that same reason a casket leaves the house feet first.
What sorts of unusual superstitions or traditions have you come across? Are there any superstitions you believe in?
Heartbreak and Honor
Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, Book 3
By Collette Cameron
Abducted by a band of renegade Scots, Highland gypsy Tasara Faas blackens her rescuer’s eye when the charming duke attempts to steal a kiss. Afterward, Tasara learns she’s the long-lost heiress Alexandra Atterberry and is expected to take her place among the elite society she’s always disdained.
Lucan, the Duke of Harcourt, promised his gravely ill mother he’d procure a wife by Christmastide, but intrigued by the feisty lass he saved in Scotland, he finds the haut ton ladies lacking. Spying Alexa at a London ball, he impulsively decides to make the knife-wielding gypsy his bride despite her aversion to him and her determination to return to the Highlands.
The adversary responsible for Alexa’s disappearance as a toddler still covets her fortune and joins forces with Harcourt’s arch nemesis. Amidst a series of suspicious misfortunes, Lucan endeavors to win Alexa’s love and expose the conspirators but only succeeds in reaffirming Alexa’s belief that she is inadequate to become his duchess.
Bestselling, award-winning Historical Romance Author, Collette Cameron, pens Scottish and Regency Romances featuring rogues, rapscallions, rakes, and the intrepid damsels who reform them. Mother to three and self-proclaimed Cadbury chocoholic, she’s crazy about dachshunds, cobalt blue, and makes her home in Oregon with her husband and five mini-dachshunds. You’ll always find animals, quirky—sometimes naughty—humor, and a dash of inspiration in her novels.
Her award-winning Castle Brides Series, Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, and Conundrums of the Misses Culpeppers Series, as well as her other books, are all available on Amazon and other major retailers.
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Just head to her website for the links.