The Northern Way

Grimm's Teutonic Mythology

Superst. I


Page 1

a. From the Chemnitzer Rocken-philosophie.

1. Whoever goes into a childbed chamber, carrying a basket, must break a chip off the basket, and put it in the cradle; otherwise he will take the child's or mother's rest (sleep) away.
2. When a mother wants to know if her child is becried (bewitched), let her lick its forehead: if becried, it will taste salt; then fumigate with sweepings from the four corners of the room ---- with shavings off the four corners of the table ----- with nine sorts of wood.
3. Who pulls out an article from the wash upside down or leftwards, will not be decried.
4. Boil frauen-flachs, szysche or ruf-kraut, bathe the sick man in the water, and leave the bath under his bed: if he is becried, it will shrink; if not, not.
5. If you are taking much money, put some chalk to it, then bad folk cannot get any of it back.
6. Wash your money in clean water, and put salt and bread to it, then the dragon and bad folk cannot get it.
7. Women boiling yarn should tell lies over it, or it won't turn white.
8. To walk over sweepings is unlucky.
9. If you call a young child little crab, it will be stunted, for crabs crawl backwards.
10. If you set out on a journey, and a hare runs across your path, it bodes no good.
11. In drinking out of a jug, do not span the lid with your hand, or the next drinker will have tension of the heart.
12. Do not buy your children rattles, nor allow any to be given, else they are slow in learning to talk.
13. For tongue-tied children it is good to eat beggar's bread.
14. If in leaving home you have forgotten something, don't go back for it, but have it fetched by another; else everything is thrown back (goes wrong).
15. If a stranger comes into the room, he shall sit down, so as not to take the children's rest away with him (see 1).
16. When you cover a table, put some bread on at once, or a corner of the cloth will trip some one up.
17. Men shall not stay in the house while the women are stuffing feathers into the beds, else the feathers will prick through the bed-tick.
18. Set the hen on to hatch while people are coming out of church, and you'll have plenty of chicks crawl out.
19. If you want large-headed chickens, wear a fine large straw hat while you set the brood-hen on.
20. The straw for a nest should be taken out of a marriage-bed, from the man's side if you want cocks, from the woman's if hens.
21. After washing in the morning, don't flirt the water from your hands, or you'll waste your victuals that day.
22. Never rock an empty cradle: it rocks the baby's rest away.
23. The first time a baby's nails want paring, let the mother bite them off, else they learn to pilfer.
24. When about to stand godfather or godmother, borrow something to wear, and your godchild will always have credit.
25. If you call children alt-männichen, alt-weibichen, they'll be stunted, and have wrinkles on the forehead.
26. If you want children to live long, call the boys Adam, and the girls Eve.
27. If a child is to live 100 years, the god-parents must be fetched from three parishes.
28. If you take a child into the cellar under a year old, it will grow up timid.
29. If you let it look into the looking-glass under a year old, it will grow up vain.
30. Children that cry at the christening don't grow old.
31. If the first children take their parents' names, they die before the parents.
32. If a dog looks into the oven when you are baking, the loaves will be loose (? erlöset), or the crust leave the crumb.
33. If there is dough in the trough, don't sweep the room till it is carried out, or you'll sweep a loaf away.
34. The vinegar spoils if you set the cruet on the table.
35. If a woman within six weeks after confinement walks a field or bed, nothing grows on it for some years, or everything spoils.
36. If a woman dies in the six weeks, lay a mangle-roller or a book in the bed, and shake up and make the bed every day till the six weeks are up, or she cannot rest in the ground.
37. Do not blow the baby's first pap, and it will not afterwards scald its mouth with hot things.
38. Would you wealthy be, cut the loaf quite evenly.
39. Eat not while the death-bell tolls, or your teeth will ache.
40. If red shoes are put on a child under a year old, it can never see blood.
41. If a woman with child stands and eats before the bread cupboard, the child will have the wasting-worm (mit-esser, fellow-eater); see 817.
42. To mend clothes on the body is not good.
43. If you sew or mend anything on Ascension-day, the lightning will come after him that wears it.
44. Eating cracknels on Maundy Thursday keeps fever away.
45. If you stride over a child, it will stop growing. (1)
46. Who works in wood will not be wealthy.
47. Never shew a light under the table where people sit, lest they begin to quarrel.
48. God-parents shall buy the child a spoon, lest it learn to dribble.
49. If a woman who is confined put a black stomacher on, the child will grow up timid.
50. In the six weeks don't take a child inside your cloak, or it will be gloomy, and always meet with sorrow.
51. He that lends money at play will lose.
52. He that borrows for play will win.
53. Let a mother who is nursing go silently out of church three Sundays, and every time blow into her child's mouth, and its teeth will come easily.
54. Between 11 and 12 the night before Christmas, the water is wine. Some say, water drawn at 12 on Easter night will turn into wine.
55. When lights are brought in on Christmas-eve, if any one's shadow has no head, he will die within a year; if half a head, in the second half-year.
56. In the Twelve nights eat no lentils, peas or beans; if you do, you get the itch.
57. One who is about to stand sponsor shall not make water after he is drest for church; else the godchild will do the same in bed.
58. If you go out in the morning, and an old woman meets you, it is a bad sign (see 380).
59. Don't answer a witch's question, or she may take something from you.
60. Stone-crop planted on the roof keeps the thunderbolt aloof.
61. Get out of bed backwards, and everything goes contrary that day.
62. If the Jüdel won't let the children sleep, give him something to play with. When children laugh in their sleep, or open and turn their eyes, we say 'the Jüdel plays with them.' Buy, without beating down the price asked, a new little pot, pour into it out of the child's bath, and set it on the oven: in a few days the Jüdel will have sucked every drop out. Sometimes eggshells, out of which the yolk has been blown into the child's pap and the mother's caudle, are hung on the cradle by a thread, for the Jüdel to play with, instead of with the child.
63. If a loaf is sent away from the table uncut, the people are sure to go away hungry.
64. If you spill salt, don't scrape it up, or you'll have bad luck.
65. If you tread your shoes inwards, you'll be rich; if outwards, poor.
66. If you have the jaundice, get the grease-pot stolen from a carrier's cart; look into that, and it will soon pass away.
67. If a dog howls the night before Christmas, it will go mad within a year.
68. Great evil is in store for him who harms a cat, or kills it.
69. If the cats bite each other in a house where a sick man lies, he will die soon.
70. A woman churning butter shall stick a three-crossed knife on the churn, and the butter will come.
71. Splinters peeling off the boards in the sitting-room are a sign of stranger guests.
72. When the cat trims herself, it shews a guest is coming.
73. If magpies chatter in the yard or on the house, guests are coming.
74. If a flea jumps on your hand, you'll hear some news.
75. If a child does not thrive, it has the Elterlein: shove it a few times into the oven, and the E. is sure to go.
76. To kill spiders is unlucky.
77. Let a newborn child be dressed up fine the first three Sundays, and its clothes will sit well on it some day.
78. If women dance in the sun at Candlemas, their flax will thrive that year.
79. If a stranger looks in at the room-door on a Monday, without walking in, it makes the husband beat his wife.
80. If a man buys or gives his betrothed a book, their love will be overturned (ver-blättert, when the leaf turns over, and you lose your place).
81. In making vinegar, you must look sour and be savage, else it won't turn out good.
82. If your ears ring, you are being slandered.
83. A hen crowing like a cock is a sign of misfortune.
84. He that fasts on Maundy Thursday will catch no fever that year, and if he does he'll get over it.
85. He that lends the first money he makes at market, gives away his luck.
86. When at market selling goods, don't let the first customer go, even if you sell under value.
87. A man shall not give his betrothed either knife or scissors, lest their love be cut in two.
88. Bathing the children on a Friday robs them of their rest.
89. If you are fetching water in silence, draw it down stream.
90. Draw crosses on your doors before Wallpurgis-night (Mayday eve), and the witches will not harm.


1. My brother too stept with one leg over me, saying 'Oho Thömilîn, now wiltow grow no more!' Life of Thomas Plater, p. 19. [Back]

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