Good afternoon! Pleased to see you here for another round of Highlights of our sessions. Yesterday, we looked at Food & Cooking. To sweeten things up, we will start with this superstition about honey-making bees and their beehives, as shared by the Bard of Cumberland. It was once customary to let bees know that their keeper had passed away. In Cumbria, the Bard of Cumberland tells us that crumbs of the funereal meal were also brought to the beehive as an offering. These rituals are the origin of the saying “telling the bees”.
Our second highlight was retold by Christine Valentor. Eggs are one of the most superstitious things in the world, usually associated with Spring, life, renewal and fertility. For that reason, they were often used in fields due to the belief that they could help crops grow. But as chemistry knowledge continued to develop, it was found that eggshells actually contained compounds like calcium carbonate that were indeed excellent for a well balanced soil. A small example of there being a grain of truth hidden in some superstitions! But that’s a story for another time.
Continuing with eggs, our third highlight was shared by Rachel Deering, who retold a tale from Ukraine about Pysanka. This tradition of decorating eggs with a wax-resist method was once associated with a pre-Christian god from Slavic mythology called Dazhdbog, later evolving into a custom performed around Easter time. This reminded me of the research materials beloging to the late folklorist Venetia Newall that were recently rescued from auctioning by The Folklore Library & Archive, our colleagues at The Folklore Network. Venetia Newall also happened to be a collector of decorated eggs, so I thought you would like to see an example of one of the eggs acquired by her from Ukraine, now living at the British Museum and available to see in their online catalogue here.
We have a fourth highlight for you again as yesterday was also St Piran’s Day – the patron saint of Cornish tin miners – and thus we could not pass on this saying shared by Anna Chorlton about pasties and cream. Originally from a 1903 piece composed by Herbert Thomas to capture the Cornish spirit, there’s more information about it in this link from the Cornish National Music Archive, where you can also listen to a version recorded in 1971 and sung by Brenda Wootton. Gool Peran lowen!
And speaking of saints, that makes a great segue into our theme next week, which shall be:
SAINTS & DIVINE BEINGS
Not just prompted by St Piran’s Day, but also by the upcoming celebrations of St Patrick’s Day on the 17th of March. Until then, I hope you will continue to look after each other and yourselves.
Lowena dhis (which means “happiness to you” in Cornish),
– Superstition Sam 🐾
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