#SuperstitionSat Highlights: The Oldest Superstitions

Welcome to another round-up of highlights from our sessions! Yesterday’s theme was ‘The Oldest Superstitions’ – looking for beliefs from ancient peoples and civilizations that we might still remember and use today.

Our first highlight was this tweet from Olivia Armstrong, as it reminded me of one of my favourite superstitions: that if you don’t break the outer shell of your egg when you’re done eating it, witches will come and use it as a boat. This belief is present in England, for example – while in Portugal it is said that the eggshell will be used by the Devil as his house. It is plausible that beliefs such as the one shared by Olivia – about how the Romans pierced their eggs before their meal to let evil spirits escape – may have been the origin of these eggy witch and Devil superstitions observed today.

Tweet by Olivia Armstrong. Photo credit: ‘Concert in the Egg’ by Hieronymus Bosch.

Our second highlight goes to Sarah Mint, who told us about amulets from Ancient Egypt that were shaped like flies. Charms such as these were believed to keep flying creatures away and they might have come in a variety of materials such as gold, silver, lapis lazuli or carnelian. Flies were highly regarded in Egypt due to their persistence, and after all these years they still haven’t changed a bit, so I might consider wearing something like this during the Summer to keep pesky flies away from my outdoor meals!

Tweet by Sarah Mint. Photo credit: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Our third highlight was shared by Folklore of Birds, who told us a lovely story about quails from Ancient Greece. It was believed that these birds were afraid of the sea, so they would shut their eyes while flying – which often caused them to fly into the sails of boats! To find out if they had reached land yet, quails carried little pebbles in their beaks, dropping them at intervals and hoping that the sound the stones made when falling did not end in a splosh! Aww.

Tweet by Folklore of Birds. Photo credit in original tweet.

Once again, we are sharing a fourth highlight to commemorate our new Guest Blog article written by Signe Maene: Chickens and Roosters in Flemish Folklore! This Saturday, Signe shared a Celtic superstition about bullaun stones – stones with a small depression where water may gather. They were believed to have healing properties, but cheeky folks might have also used them to curse someone else!

Tweet by Signe Maene. Photo in public domain via Wikimedia.

I hope you enjoyed this Saturday’s highlights. I look forward to hearing more superstitions for our new theme next week, celebrating some of my favourite holidays: Carnival and Mardi Gras. It’s:


Until then, take care of yourselves – and no cursing each other, please!
– Superstition Sam 🐾