Open Thread

Open Thread Update: Very Superstitious

We’re so lucky to have so many Senior Planet readers willing to share the superstitions they heard about in their families!
First off, thanks to reader Michelle, who pointed out our first pick for artwork, a black cat, was a harmful stereotype, seconded by reader Rose. Black cats sometimes suffer harm because of their ‘bad” reputation (something my own black cat, the late, lamented Honey, would have been surprised to learn).
Many folks noted standards like not opening umbrellas inside the home. Other readers, like Windy, were a treasure trove of notes to avoid bad luck.  Here are just a few…

Stirring anything with a knife brings bad luck… If you put a piece of clothing on backwards (or inside out) – leave it that way – do not change it. And of course no spilt salt and no open umbrellas inside.


…and just when your think you’ve heard them all, reader Catherine tosses some ringers into the mix…

..Throw trimmings of your hair outside, birds will get it, and you will suffer headaches….superstitions, old wives tales, and the dead trying to speak to you thru dreams of clouds, and coming out of closets, to the foot of your bed…My mom and grandmom often scared me, just overhearing their conversations; both believed they were gifted.


I’m with reader Belinda about not sharing nightmares,

There are tons more in the comments, including a bunch I’ve never heard of. – so check them all out, and if any of yours  are missing…add them! If you are late to this post, the original column is below – read and contribute!

Original Column: Very Superstitious!


When I have a nightmare, I’ll keep it to myself because if I tell anyone, it will come true….doubly so if I dream about teeth, because my mom told me that means someone is going to die.

Naturally, because of my Sicilian heritage, many superstitions involve food. Spilling olive oil was bad luck. Even numbers are unlucky (that’s why the anisette always had three coffee beans floating on top). And of course, we hung a horseshoe or ram’s horns over the door to repel the malocchio, the evil eye.


But that’s me. Are you superstitious? What superstitions did you grow up with…and maybe still believe? Let us know in the comments!!

Virge Randall is Senior Planet’s Managing Editor. She is also a freelance culture reporter who seeks out hidden gems and unsung (or undersung) treasures for Straus Newspapers; her blog “Don’t Get Me Started” puts a quirky new spin on Old School New York City. Send  Open Thread suggestions to



17 responses to “Open Thread Update: Very Superstitious

  1. I’m not superstitious. There are many I’ve heard of but just don’t follow. My Dad’s mother was “from the old country” as was said and had all kinds of superstitions about farming and gardening and women. I once told a classmate in grade school about a bird in our house and she gasped and told me it meant one of my family was going to die. Since we had many birds that fell down our chimney and ended up in the house I just laughed an said if that were true I would have no family left.

  2. My superstition is not old family lore but based on a tragic loss. I never wear red. I was wearing a red t-shirt when I lost my soulmate in a car accident we were in together. He was ejected from the car after it left the road and flipped 3 times. When I got out of the car and ran to him down the road, he lay in a pool of (very red) blood. Since that time I can’t bring myself to wear red.

  3. I grew up as the youngest of 5 girls. All the food was set in front of my father. He dished up the plates in order of importance. Mom first, then 1st girl, 2nd, etc. My dad served himself last. The superstition we were told was that whoever took the last bit of food would be an old maid. You can imagine how that affected 5 “young ladies”!
    Looking back on my childhood, I wonder if my dad made this one up to get more food. : (

  4. Dear Ms. Cooper,
    I am wondering why you chose to capitalize OLD in your question?? This woman looks spry enough wearing athletics shoes, walking with both arms relaxed. It’s impossible to tell her age. You are the one condemning this woman to “Old Age”, You are the one guilty of the “ageism” and I must ask “WHY”?

  5. Stirring anything with a knife brings bad luck. Putting shoes on the table (even if they are new and still in the box brings bad luck. Death comes in three’s (when you hear of one death, two more will quickly follow). If you put a piece of clothing on backwards (or inside out) – leave it that way – do not change it. And of course no spilt salt and no open umbrellas inside.

  6. Brake a mirror= 7 yrs bad luck….Throw trimmings of your hair outside, birds will get it, and you will suffer headaches….Step on a crack, break your mothers back….Open umbrella in the house, bad luck….Dream of rats= enemies….Shoes on a table= bad luck….superstitions, old wives tales, and the dead trying to speak to you thru dreams of clouds, and coming out of closets, to the foot of your bed..My mom and grandmom often scared me, just overhearing their conversations;both believed they were gifted

  7. I am wondering why this photo was chosen? Yes, I see this OLD woman is walking under a ladder, but… are you making fun of an old person? Is this an example of agism??
    We all have to begin to raise our awareness and think hard about what we choose and how it will land. Thank you.

    1. Hi there, and thanks for your comment! We always look for photos/art that is age appropriate, relevant to the content and available for use. Sometimes the art is on the money. Sometimes it’s just the best compromise available…in this case, superstitions. The art is meant to illustrate a very common superstition with an older person; we’re sorry that you felt it insulting, since that was not at all our intent.

  8. Something I get in my waking brain is this: Don’t tell anyone about the nightmare, no matter how interesting or confusing or disjointed (teenage words for “weird” in my younger journal entries). Why? Myth alert: I’m old and I’m crazy, or a look from a relative, so don’t share. However, thank goodness, I kick myself (not literally)and just share. Hmmm. Boom!

  9. Please do not perpetuate the horrible superstition/old wive’s tale that black cats are bad luck featuring a prominent picture of one with your article. I work with a feline rescue and sometimes our black cats get passed over for adoption due to the proliferation of these ignorant, obsolete superstitions. It also makes them more vulnerable to abuse/torture on the streets from evil people.

  10. I grew up with Irish grandparents who were afraid of open umbrellas in the house and anyone who didn’t take off their hat when entering. These were everyday things around my grandparent’s place and we all had to abide by them. I didn’t know any different till I was in high school. Also, when my grandfather died, my grandmother wore black when she went out for the rest of her life.

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