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Five Irish Superstitions to Live By

Rules are good, right? Some people just have more than others.

Growing up with a very Irish mother, superstition was deeply woven into the tapestry of my childhood.

Indeed, adhering to the admonitions of, say, five superstitions before breakfast was called Tuesday. It didn't have to be St. Patrick's Day or even Good Friday or All Soul's Day, the most foreboding days of a Catholic year. They're the only days printed in black on the calendar the church gives you. Check it out. But I digress...

I'm also well aware, by the way, that superstition is not unique to the Irish, and that the practice enriches many other cultures. Some are even understandable: never walk under a ladder, for instance, could just be common sense. Something -- even the ladder -- could fall on you.

But a good day in our house might include complying with one or more of these:

1. Hat on the bed, trouble ahead. No idea where this came from. True, it rhymes, so that's a plus. Perhaps it had something to do with that accessory of yore, the hatpin. But if you know what's good for you, NEVER toss that Red Sox cap on a bed.

2. No shoes on the table. Ever. I was in my 20s before my mother would even tell me what was supposed to happen if this were breached. Before that she just shook her head. Supposedly, if you put your shoes on the table you will soon hear of a death. So why take the chance, right?

3. Pearls bring tears. Ergo, the person who gives you pearls will make you cry. It explained the look of horror on my mother's face when my husband gave me a beautiful pearl necklace as a wedding gift.

4. Never give a gift with a point. It will puncture your friendship. That means scissors, knives, brooches, pierced earrings, you get the picture. It pertained pretty much to anything that had the ability to break a balloon. This particular superstition, however, had an antidote: if you tape a penny or a nickel to the gift, the recipient can return the coin to the giver, thus "buying" the item. At that point it was no longer a gift, so it was safe.

5. Dropping a dishtowel means you'll have an unwelcome visitor. This came to be a huge joke to us since my mother's cousin would unfailingly show up after some butterfingers had a dish-drying mishap. It didn't take long before my dad would just grab the car keys and go before he had to sit through another visit.

So there you have it, though I didn't even get to the salt, a yawning newborn, being forgetful, the right side of anything (always good), the left side of anything (always bad) or -- God forbid -- a whistling woman.

Here's hoping the road rises to meet you and the wind will always be at your back. Try to enjoy your day.

Knock wood.

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