Old wives' tales are old beliefs coming from long ago, at a time before there were things such as writing materials, books, telephones and computers. These are oral sayings handed down from Grandmothers of yesterday. Some people believe them, some just like to say them as a way to remember Grandmother, some do not believe them at all and just laugh about it.
Some of my favorites are about courtship and love. Valentines Day in old Europe always brought out the awareness of bird behaviour and the choosing of their mates. This brought the minds of young people to the thoughts of love and meeting their intended. The first bird that a young maiden saw on Valentine's Day would, it was believed, let her know what type of man she would marry.
"He loves me, he loves me not," is said when picking the petals off a flower. If the girl is lucky, the last petal will be "He loves me!"
A Robin Redbreast meant she would marry a sailor or other nautical man.
A clergyman or priest would be her husband if she saw a blackbird.
A Sparrow would assure that her husband would be a farmer or maybe a country gentleman.
Any yellow bird, such as the Goldfinch would bring her a rich man.
A Crossbill meant she would spend her life married to an argumentative man.
Seeing a Bluebird told her that the husband would be a happy man.
Seeing a Dove would bring her a good man.
Seeing a Woodpecker meant, unfortunately, no husband and she would have to wait till the following year.
If a young girl catches a ladybug and then releases it, the direction in which it flies away will be the direction from which her future husband will come.
Here are some more old sayings and beliefs:
If a bird enters a house that is a sign of death.
If a bee should enter your home, you will soon have a visitor. Killing the bee will bring bad luck or an unpleasant visitor.
If someone brushes a broom over your feet when sweeping the floor, you will never get married.
If you leave a house through a different door then when you entered the house, that will bring bad luck to you.
Cats should be kept away from babies, for they suck the breath out of the child.
It is a sign that evil spirits are near if a ceremonial candle blows out.
A black cat walking towards you brings good fortune. If a black cat walks away from you, it takes away the good fortune.
A black cat crossing your path is bad luck.
Walking under a ladder is bad luck.
Step on a crack on the sidewalk and you will break your mother's back.
An itchy right ear means somone is speaking good things about you. If your left ear itches, they are speaking ill of you.
Breaking a mirror will bring you seven years of bad luck. Careful!