According to my father, my grandmother (who was born in post Victorian 1910) was a superstitious sort. Her Victorian parents handed down a multitude of superstitions and folklore to her.
For instance if there was a thunder-storm in the night my Gran would drag my aunt and my father when they were children from their lovely warm beds on to the porch.
She would turn all the mirrors in the house round so any lightening would not be able to be reflected and open the back door so if lightening did hit the house it would go through the house thus leaving the house untouched and of course you wouldn’t be likely to killed.
Death has always raised superstitions in us, why…well I guess it is an unknown until it happens to us, is there an after life, heaven, hell or nothing, a decision we need to make through out our lives.
So in the days when loved ones tended to rest in the house it as very important to close the curtains and make sure that all clocks were be stopped at the time of death.
Mirrors (again) were to be covered with to prevent the deceased’s spirit from getting trapped in the mirror. Family photographs were also sometimes turned face-down to prevent any of the close relatives and friends from being possessed by the spirit of the dead.
You needed to watch the body was watched over every minute until burial, actually this wasn’t so much a superstition but more to make sure that they didn’t wake up. Now if we consider that medicine wasn’t that far advanced and to detect faint signs of life like a coma must have been quite difficult. In fact this was such a worry that the Safety Coffin was patented just in case…thus we get ‘saved by the bell!
The deceased were always carried out of the house feet first in order to prevent the spirit from looking back into the house and beckoning another member of the family to follow him.
Here in the UK graves are laid out so that the bodies lie with their heads to the west and their feet to the east this is due to our wonderful Christian heritage that led our believe that the final Judgment will come from the East.
Another superstition was to place coins on the eyes so that the person could pay Charon, the ferryman, to row them across the river Stix once they reached the afterlife…strange for a Victorian era that was primarily Christian.
More to come….