The Thirteen Halloween Hauntings, Part 1

Enoch is one lucky black cat

October 19, 2012  The Thirteen Days of Halloween, Post 1

In honor of that spookiest day of the year—October 31—I propose to pen thirteen blogs daily, now through fright night in honor of that scariest of that scariest of holidays

Why thirteen?  Well, we have the twelve days of Christmas we celebrate—or at least we used to.  Yuletide should run from December 25 through January 6 by rights, although lately it seems folks want to get the holiday season over with on December 26.  I am among that minority who prefer to enjoy Yuletide for as long as possible and that means from big Christmas to Little Christmas.  After all, January is a pretty dull month.  So, for no particular reason, other than it sounds good, I chose thirteen for Halloween.

Bear in mind, while in popular Anglo-American superstition thirteen is bad luck, among the Welsh the number thirteen is in fact a lucky number.  Of course the Welsh being Celts, like the Irish and the Scots, they have a strong contrary streak and so whatever the English adhere to, they tend to believe just the opposite.  The Welsh also believe that black cats are good luck.  My black cat, Enoch, is certainly lucky: he gets to sleep all day, eats when he wants, and pretty much does as he pleases (which is not much).  So my black cat’s luckiness applies mainly to himself.

Speaking of superstitions, one Southern superstition that ya’ll Yankees may not have heard of is enshrined in the expression “jumping the broom.”  Among both races in Dixie, to “jump the broom” is another way to say getting married.  It comes from the belief that if newlyweds place a broom across the threshold to their new home, witches can’t follow them in and put an evil spell on the marriage.

In the old days, couples literally did put a broom across the entrance to their cabin on wedding day and then “jumped” across it.  Brides and grooms who jumped the broom were believed to enjoy a more harmonious and fruitful marriage, and to judge by the number of children they had in the old days, this seems to have been true.

For more about Tennessee witches and witchcraft–and how to counter their curses–see my original accounts in Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground and Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee.

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