umbrellas


umbrellas
   The fact that it is unlucky to open an umbrella indoors is one of the most widely known superstitions in England today, achieving sixth place in our *Superstitions Survey 1998/9 Top Ten. Some go further to say it is particularly bad if you hold it over your head. There are other less well-known beliefs about umbrellas: it is unlucky to place an umbrella on a table, or a bed, and if you drop your umbrella someone else must pick it up for you (this is also said of walking sticks and *spoons). Clearly, these beliefs cannot be particularly old, as the umbrella itself only became widely accepted in England at the end of the 18th century. Indeed, none of them has been found earlier than the 1880s. There seems to be no explanation - rational or otherwise - for these superstitions.
   ■ Opie and Tatem, 1989: 415; N&Q8s:10 (1896), 196, 472; 8s:11 (1897), 332, 430.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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