Hi there! Welcome back to another pick of our Session’s Highlights. Yesterday (23/07/22), we had a look at superstitions about the WEATHER. We plan all our themes one year in advance, so it was rather an eerie coincidence that this theme happened to be scheduled for a week of heatwaves around the world. So, last week, I asked if you knew some useful superstitions to call in the rain and stable temperatures – and you answered the call!
In that case, we are starting with a Highlight to bring us some gentler weather, as shared by a new Twitter feline: Book Cat! Book Cat is the mascot of a new literature hashtag called #BookChatWeekly – they’ve just started last week and they share your bookish tweets from Monday to Friday, with a special themed event taking place on Thursdays. Yesterday, they shared a tale with us that pineapples are considered a good luck item to carry aboard a ship, which may be due to their association with prestige and hospitality. Some historians believe that Christopher Columbus was the first European colonizer to come face-to-face with this odd-looking fruit, which is said to have been hung in front of doors in Caribbean villages.
After that, the pineapple grew in popularity (and price) and began to be featured in colonial houses in banisters, door knockers and the like, as Westerners thought they symbolised welcomeness. The good luck opposite of a pineapple on board is a banana – considered terribly unlucky by sailors who believed a cargo or just a single banana could be the cause of getting lost at sea. For more superstitions on sailing, check out this handy Top 20 by the Maritime Museum of New Zealand – and if you liked the artwork shared in Book Cat’s tweet, Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates is available to read here!
Our second Highlight sailed to us all the way from Argentina with PatoGotico, who brought a proverb that translates as “wind from the east, rains like the plague”. The saying references the meteorological phenomenon known as “Sudestada” which emerges near the region of Rio de la Plata. When cold temperatures clash with the South Atlantic humidity, heavy rains and winds may occur – making the Buenos Aires region look like this.
Luckily, our third Highlight told us that you can learn to better predict bad spells of weather just by looking at… me! As shared by PJ Richards, cats are said to be excellent meteorologists, as our behaviour can warn you of wind, rain and storms. The scientific explanation for this is that we are extremely sensitive to changes in barometric pressure. Though, a similar superstition in Britain claims that cats can not only foretell the weather – but actually control it! On December 20th 1831, Charles Darwin’s crew on the H.M.S Beagle swore that the reason why they could not set sail was because a cat had conjured up a storm, after getting trapped under a tub:
The rain fell in torrents & the S.W. wind blew all the morning; but now the moon is shining bright on the sea, which looks so calm, that one would think it never would again be troubled by a storm. Nothing can be more beautiful than the view from our present anchorage, on such a clear night as this is; the Sound looks like a lake. May these not turn out false signs, that our disappointment ⟨to⟩ be the more bitter. The sailors declare there is somebody on shore keeping a black cat under a tub, which it stands to reason must keep us in harbour.
But I would never conjure up a storm for anyone – all I want is for you all to be safe, in all weathers! Which is why some folks say that fishermen’s wives would sometimes keep the company of black cats like me while their loved ones went to sea, as it was said that we would keep their seafarers safe and sound. We found another free book for you that tells you all about this, called The Music of the Waters (1888).
That is all for today, I hope you enjoyed this selection. Do join us again next week (30/07/22) if you can, and tell us all about the Summer festivals that take place in your region at this time of year such as
LAMMAS & LUGHNASADH
As usual, whether you’re old, new or just passing through, your presence is very much appreciated and I am glad to see you stop by. See you next Saturday!
Your lucky cat pal,
– Superstition Sam 🐾