Recently while sitting with friends enjoying a meal, someone at the table accidentally spilt the salt shaker and immediately tossed some salt over their left shoulder. As is the usual case while in the company of friends, the question came up – “Does anyone truly know how this tradition came about? Several theories came to mind:
Back in time, salt was very expensive and if someone spilt salt, the spilt salt was associated with future loss in general. Another version regarding spilt salt was that salt makes the soil barren for a long time and so the spilling of salt is a form of cursing a land.
But the one most people associate the spilling of salt with and why one is to quickly toss a pinch of salt over their left shoulder is because in doing so you are throwing the salt in the face of the Devil who lurks there. Who knew?
While sitting there, we decided to toss around a few other sayings or superstitions. Having just passed St. Patty’s Day, someone asked why is Corned Beef and Cabbage associated with St. Patty’s Day and the Irish? Fact of the matter is Corned beef and cabbage isn’t even an Irish meal. To learn more of this tale, we have to go back in time and also to New York City. Apparently back in the early days the favorite meal of Irish immigrants in New York City was pork. However with times being as tough as they were back then, not being able to afford pork, the immigrants sought out cheap alternatives. Yup, you guessed it – Corned Beef and Cabbage was the meal they were able to afford. And believe it or not, they found this inexpensive alternative in the delis and lunch carts of their Jewish neighbors. So, in reality, it was our Jewish friends that came up with Corned beef and cabbage and apparently eating this dish took place on St. Patty’s Day when the Irish immigrants would normally have pork.
Let me now switch to one of our favorite meals – that of pork and sauerkraut on New Years’ Day. I had always thought this was a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition. Our reasons for eating this on New Years’ Day are the same as that found in my research. Supposedly blessings and wealth would come to the family eating this dish and in our case we eat it on New Years’ Day so that we have good luck and prosperity the balance of the New Year. It has further been said that goodness and money – measured by the number of shreds of cabbage in the pot of Sauerkraut – would also come to the family partaking of this dish on New Years’ Day. As for the pig (pork) – well the pig has long been a symbol for good luck and well-being. So, whether it is a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition or not, we still partake of that meal every New Year’s Day so that blessings, wealth, good luck, and well-being follow us into the New Year.
Let me throw a few more in just for the heck of it. Take the superstition of not having shoes above your head when sleeping – well supposedly doing this will cause misfortune.
And then there is the one about – “Don’t go to bed angry.” Many couples follow this rule mainly because most things being disagreed upon aren’t worth more than a day’s battle. The theory is any arguments that come up during the day should be worked out before one goes to bed or just let it go. Bottom line – if you cannot let it go – at least agree to disagree. One way of possibly resolving the argument is attempt to determine to whom the issue is most important – and then allow that person to win. And whatever the case – don’t hold grudges.
Well, I am running out of words and so I guess I have imparted enough trivial knowledge upon you, my fellow readers. I hope I have entertained you and possibly brought a smile to your face. If I have then I have done my job and if I haven’t, well, all I can do is apologize and say I will attempt to do better next time.
Until next time!