Scottish Superstitions : 25th October 2015
Deedee Cuddihy, introduced herself very self-effacingly. She observed that having looked at the speakers’ talk summaries on our website, that her talk would be a new low for the Club. She then went on to advise that surveys had shown that the Scots were the most superstitious in the UK. Her early trawl to test members’ “superstitiousness” suggested that Kelvin Probus members are far too grounded and cynical! Having experienced some inexplicable behaviours in Glasgow, such as people dashing to pick up a lucky penny in the street, Deedee had discovered that they were rooted in superstition. As a journalist this had piqued her curiosity and made her decide to write a book. She felt that her little book would provide an interesting and entertaining record of superstitions for posterity. Deedee takes her research very seriously and leaves no stone unturned. So much so that street Charity fund raisers started to run in the opposite direction when they spotted her on the horizon. Overall she found people were very serious in their superstitions and would go to considerable lengths to avoid causing offence to the relevant deity! The female of the species, is apparently particularly susceptible. In the USA, superstition is not so pronounced, but Deedee noted everyone buys into blowing all the birthday candles out before having a wish! (Having a sly dig at members’ age at this point given the numbers of candles involved.) Speaking to Asians she found that in India anything could be made superstitious – living or inanimate. When talking to the Chinese community in Garnethill she learned about the intriguing Green Hat superstition. Apparently if a man wears a green hat it means his wife is having affair!! Deedee found this out from one of the Glasgow helpers of the community group. He had caused great amusement amongst the ladies by turning up in a green beanie hat! Deedee then decided it was time for some audience participation. Initially members were reserved not wishing to reveal their well-hidden foibles. However, Deedee dipped into her bag of superstitious mysteries to test members’ awareness. For example, most reacted strongly to boots being put on the table. I could sense members feeling in their pockets for some garlic, a silver cross, indeed anything, to ward off the bad luck. Men twitched when she went to pick up a glove she’d dropped – you must stand on it before picking up (and even better if an attractive male had picked it up!). The steady trickle of tales from the audience demonstrated that most of the members were familiar with most of the superstitions mentioned. They also recognized them as ridiculous, but then, just in case, observed them! (And, no doubt, in memory of the Mum, Dad or Gran who had inculcated the habit!) For instance, I don’t think any of the members cut their nails on Fridays or Sundays! This was a real trip down memory lane thanks to Deedee.