Monday, November 10, 2008
Feet and Shoe Superstitions : More factoids
There are many old wives’ tales who involve feet and shoes. Many had less to do with luck, good or bad, and more to do with pragmatism. In ancient Egypt, a cure for common cold was to inhale the fumes from burning sandals. This might not have been such a strange custom since simple footwear for common people was made from vegetable materials containing natural salicylates. Putting a red pepper in the shoes during winter months in cold countries was thought to keep the feet warm. Giving a friend a pair of shoes would ensure they walked away from you.
At a time when shoes were regularly bequeathed to family and friends some people feared accepting the gift as it may cause them to walk in the former owner's troubles. Possibly for this reason it was bad karma to borrow the shoes from a friend as an argument would often follow. Whereas sticking a hairpin in a shoe would guarantee you met with a good friend. People with holes in their soles of their shoes were destined to become wealthy.
The storage of shoes carried certain taboos, such as new hoes should be kept off the floor for good luck; but never in a position higher than knee level, otherwise illness might follow.
A popular superstition in North America was if the expectant father wore his boots while his baby was born, then it would be a boy. When children were born, feet first, (a breach birth), this was called "footing". Infant mortality was high and to survive a breach birth was then, quite rare. Consequently, footers were bestowed with special healing powers. People born with talipes were also considered special and thought to possess great talent. Polydactylism was considered lucky. A common belief was a baby’s legs needed to be rubbed with a bay leaf otherwise the child was destined to become crippled by an accident.
A superstition of cherry pickers was to rub their shoes with cherry leafs to avoid chocking on a cherry stone. Colonial Americans used to place their heavy boots on their abdomen to cure stomachache.