Smoky Mountain Superstitions
Smoky Mountain Superstitions are still a big part of a lot of families in the Great Smoky Mountain area. Many stories and superstitions have been passed down for years and it is up to us to keep those stories going from generation to generation; just as our ancestors did. If you didn’t grow up in the area surrounding the Smoky Mountains, then you will likely find that you have never heard of many of the following superstitions. With today’s modern world, we are quick to dismiss all these stories that have been passed down. We wave off superstitions with our hand and not another thought, but I can admit that even though I am not superstitious, I do enjoy the stories and I do knock on wood three times!
A few that you may find you are familiar with:
If your nose starts itching, company is coming.
Death comes in threes to a family or community.
If a bird flies into the house, it is a sign there will be a death in the near future.
It’s bad luck to pick up a coin if it’s tails side up.
A cricket in the house brings good luck.
Swallow a watermelon seed and a watermelon will grow in your stomach.
It is bad luck to walk under a ladder.
Break a mirror and receive seven years of bad luck.
More uncommon ones:
To cure a sty, stand at a crossroads and recite: “Stye, stye, leave my eye. Take the next one coming by.”
If the bottom of your right foot itches, you are going to take a trip.
It is bad luck to cut your fingernails on a Friday or Sunday.
Don’t go barefoot before May 10th.
If you whistle before breakfast, you will cry before dusk.
If you tell a bad dream before breakfast, it will come true.
Planting potatoes on the full moon will cause them to grow closer to the top of the ground and be sunburnt.
Never go in one door and out the other – it will create bad luck.
In the fall, make sure you keep a buckeye in your pocket until the next year when you get another. This will you luck with money. If you get goosebumps or shiver for no reason, someone is walking over the patch of ground in which you will be buried.
If you ears are red, someone is talking about you.
If you sweep after the sun goes down, you’ll never be rich.
If you see the leaves turn upside down when the wind blows, a big storm is coming
Don’t let a blister burst until after sundown or it will be more painful and take much longer to heal.
Never put a hat on a bad. If you do, it brings bad luck.
To drop a fork means a man is coming to visit.
To stop a bleed, recite Ezekiel 16:6.
Burning a candle during a lightning storm will prevent the house from being struck.
Place a geranium on the southwest corner of your house to provide protection from storms.
Acorns thrown on the roof prevent hail damage.
Blue glass repels negativity.
Tossing myrtle into a fire is said to show you the face of your future husband/wife.
In addition to smoky mountain superstitions, those raised in the mountains have their own set of “language” terms as well. I remember this one time I had a friend visit from Poland. She told me that she had no clue what my family and I were saying most of the time. She said that wasn’t the English she learned! Haha. Well, she was right. Smoky Mountain English is commonly misinterpreted and is a far cry from the English we are taught in schools. A lot of the terms were inherited from Scotland and mountain speech is actually quite innovative. New expressions and words were made up from early settlers, a lot of those expressions and words were even shortened from other words. An example is ‘hippoes’ which came from hypochondria and means “an imaginary or pretended ailment.” Additionally, a lot of words were created by combining other words. Endurable (long-lasting) was created from endure and durable. There are a lot of expressions that perhaps you have heard of like charge it to the dust and let the rain settle on it which means to forgive a debt and meaner than a striped snake or pretty as a speckled pup. You have to grin at some of these and sure some of them you would never repeat in daily life, but it’s important to keep them alive. I can hear a certain term and it instantly brings a smile to my face. Why? Because it reminds me of a grandparent or uncle.
The next time you vacation in Pigeon Forge and want to learn more about the folklore surrounding the folks that grew up in the area, be sure to check out the many books at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Our Pigeon Forge Condos (Bear Crossing, Cedar Lodge, Golf View Resort, Mountain View Condo, Big Bear Resort and Whispering Pines) are all within 15 minutes from the Visitors Center and you will find so many stories from the people that grew up in the Smoky Mountain National Park. Those stories are sure to put a smile on your face just like they did when I heard them from family members. If you are interested in learning more about the Smoky Mountains, be sure to read our article on Smoky Mountain Haunted Places too!