The Northern Way

Grimm's Teutonic Mythology

Superst. N



  1. When the elf is red, he brings people gold; when blue, corn or ill-luck.

  2. It is not good for a corpse to lie so that it can be seen in the glass; some say the dead man gets up and looks at himself. Better hang it elsewhere.

  3. On New year's eve nine sorts of things ---- money, cradle, bread, ring, death's head, old man, old woman, ladder and key ---- are baked of dough, and laid under nine plates, and every one has three grabs at them. What he gets will fall to his lot during the year.

  4. The same evening every girl takes tow or flax, rolls it into a little ball, sets it alight, and tosses it up. She whose ball rises highest, or burns longest, will get married that year.

  5. If you spin on Shrove Tuesday, the flax will not thrive; if you go for a drive thee will be good flax. All over Lithuania they drive on that day; if the gentlefolk don't themselves, they let their servants.

  6. Sow peas when the wind sets from a soft (rainy) quarter; then they will boil well.

  7. Grass mown under a new moon the cattle reject, or eat reluctantly.

  8. The death of the master or mistress must be told the horses by jingling the keys, also to the other cattle, especially the bees. Otherwise the cattle fall, the trees decay, and the bees die out or move.

  9. If a hare runs across your path, it means bad luck; a fox on the contrary a safe journey and good news.

  10. If you take needle in hand on Good Friday, the lightning will be after you (see Germ. 43). All work on that day is fraught with mischief.

  11. Girls must be weaned by a waning moon, or they'll have too large a bosom; boys at full moon, that they may grow big and strong; but no children during the passage of birds, else they'll be restless and changeable.

  12. When visitors drive away, don't sweep your floors directly after; it would bring them ill-luck on their journey.

    1. Besseldt in Büsching's Wöch. Nachr., b. 3 (Breslau 1817). pp. 223-339. [Back]

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