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Monday, November 10, 2008

Feet and Shoes : Old Wive'sTales

There are many old wives’s tales who involve feet and shoes. These had less to do with luck, good or bad, but instead were pragmatic in nature. Putting a red pepper in the shoes during winter was thought to keep the feet warm. Giving a friend a pair of shoes would ensure they walked away from you. As such it was considered back luck to accept a gift of old shoes because you would walk in the former owner's troubles. Whilst this may appear a contradiction, it was thought shoes took on the persona of the original owner, good or bad. Probably for this reason it was bad karma to borrow the shoes of a friend as an argument would 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. Even the storing shoes had specific taboos, such as new hoes should be kept high of the floor for good luck; but never in a position higher than knee level, otherwise would illness follow. When a child was born, feet first, a breach birth, this was called "footing". A common belief was the baby’s legs needed to be rubbed with a bay leaf otherwise the child was destined to become crippled by an accident. Infant mortality was high and to survive a breach birth quite rare. 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 popular superstition in North America was if the expectant father wore his boots while his baby was born, then it would be a boy. 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.

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