We all know that herbs make great companions in the garden and kitchen. Herbs also have a long history as a natural remedy—and many other more unusual uses, too! Read on…
Romans paid taxes with anise, and it was used in cough drops.
Anise seed steeped in milk is said to be a sleep-producing drink, but it is also quite likely that the warm milk alone would do the trick.
Precious to lovers in Italy and considered sacred in India. Many years ago, Italian men wore a sprig of basil to indicate their intended marriage. A cup of basil tea after dinner helps digestion. Ease a headache by drinking tomato juice blended with fresh basil.
The Romans believed the herb to be an antidepressant, and ancient Celtic warriors took it for courage.
Caraway was used to scent perfumes and soaps. The Greeks used it for upset stomachs.
Eating a whole plant would cure hiccups; chervil was said to warm old and cold stomachs.
Bunches of chives hung in your home were used to drive away diseases and evil.
Romans made wreaths and garlands out of dill. Dill keeps witches away.
Bunches of fennel were used to drive off witches. It was used in love potions and as an appetite suppressant.
It was thought to give strength and courage. Aristotle noted garlic’s use as a guard against the fear of water. It’s also been widely used against evil powers.
Chewing on a piece of the dried root will keep you awake. Lovage warms a cold stomach and help digestion. Added to bathwater, it was believed to relieve skin problems.
The Greeks believed it could revive the spirits of anyone who inhaled it. At weddings wreaths and garlands were made of marjoram.
It was believed to cure hiccups and counteract sea-serpent stings. The Romans wore peppermint wreaths on their heads. It was added to bathwater for its fragrance.
Used for “sour humours” that plagued old farmers. Also used for scorpion and spider bites.
Used for wreaths and in funeral ceremonies. Believed to repel head lice and attract rabbits.
Rosemary in your hair will improve your memory. It will protect you from evil spirits if you put a sprig under your pillow.
Thought to promote strength and longevity and believed to cure warts. American Indians used it as a toothbrush.
It was believed to be an aphrodisiac. Some thought it was a cure for deafness.
Put in shoes before long walking trips to give strength. It has been used to relieve toothache and as an antifungal.
Burning thyme gets rid of insects in your house. A bed of thyme was thought to be a home for fairies.
Anyone who has sage planted in the garden is reputed to do well in business.
There are many superstitions and old wives’ tales about the house and home. Are they fact or fiction? Let us know what you think.
These sayings for good luck in your home come from The Old Farmer’s Almanac folklore archives.
Scatter Solomon’s seal on the floor to banish serpents and venomous creatures from the room.
To protect your house from lightning, gather hazel tree branches on Palm Sunday and keep them in water.
Add caraway seeds to chicken feed to keep poultry from wandering. Feed the seeds to homing pigeons to help them find their way back.
Stuff fennel in your keyhole or hang it over your door to protect against evil spirits. (Of course, we now know fennel has many natural remedy benefits to help keep us healthy!)
Never carry a hoe into the house. If you do so by mistake, carry it out again, walking backward to avoid bad luck.
Never walk under a ladder, which is Satan’s territory. If you must do it, cross your fingers or make the sign of the fig (closed fist, with thumb between index and middle fingers).
If you give a steel blade to a friend, make the recipient pay you a penny to avoid cutting the friendship.
Never give a knife as a housewarming present, or your new neighbor will become an enemy.
Never pound a nail after sundown, or you will wake the tree gods.
Nail an evergreen branch to new rafters to bring good luck. An empty hornets’ nest, hung high, also will bring good luck to a house of any age.
When you move to a new house, always enter first with a loaf of bread and a new broom. Never bring an old broom into the house.
We wholeheartedly endorse the rigorous and unpleasant methods of extending life suggested by doctors, but our research into centuries of American folk wisdom has turned up 100 EASY ways of avoiding death by observing a few simple rules in everyday situations. These beliefs come from all over this country and were actually collected by students of folklore and anthropology.
None of them were made up. Just remember: if you fail to observe these rules, we won’t be responsible for the consequences!
1. Don’t take ashes out of the fireplace or wood stove between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
2. Never place a broom on a bed.
3. Close umbrellas before bringing them into a house.
4. Avoid sweeping after sundown.
5. You mustn’t wash clothes on New Year Day.
6. Don’t shake out a tablecloth after dark.
7. Never wash a flag.
8. Don’t turn a chair on one leg.
9. Keep cats off piano keys.
10. Don’t hang a dishcloth on a doorknob.
11. Sweeping under a sick person’s bed will kill him or her.
12. Don’t ever, ever rock an empty rocking chair.
RENOVATION AND DECORATING
13. Never add-on to the back of your house.
14. You mustn’t cut a new window in an old house; the only way to avoid fatal consequences is to toss your apron through the new window, and then jump through it yourself.
15. Never drive a nail after sunset.
16. Don’t move into an unfinished house.
17. Avoid carrying axes, shovels, and other sharp-edged tools through a house; if you must take one inside, always take it out by the same door.
18. If you move out of a house, don’t move back into it for a year.
19. Don’t hang your sweetheart’s picture upside-down.
20. If a picture falls from the wall, don’t pick it up.
21. Never carry a peacock’s feather into a house.
22. Keep cut flowers out of bedrooms overnight.
23. Don’t ever carry a bouquet of wildflowers indoors before May 1.
SEWING AND FASHION
24. If you cut out a new dress on Friday, you must finish it that same day.
25. Don’t make new clothes between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
26. Never hold a stick in your mouth while sewing.
27. Always sew cross-stitching on your underwear.
28. Don’t walk around in one shoe.
29. If you see a will-o’-wisp while out walking at night, turn your coat inside-out.
30. Never wear another’s new clothes before they have worn them.
31. A woman who makes her own wedding dress will not live to wear it.
COOKING AND TABLE MANNERS
32. Never set three lamps on a table at the same time.
33. Don’t set the table backwards.
34. Never serve 13 at a table.
35. Avoid drinking coffee at 5 o’clock.
36. You mustn’t write on the back of a dish.
37. Never return borrowed salt.
38. Don’t ever cross knives while setting the table.
39. Be sure that someone else cooks your birthday dinner.
40. Don’t put two forks at one place setting.
41. Never, never turn a loaf of bread upside down.
42. Sleeping with your head at the foot of the bed is surely fatal.
43. Don’t sing in bed.
44. If you hear a dog howl at night, reach under the bed and turn over a shoe.
45. Don’t count stars.
46. A man should never dream of a naked woman; a woman should never dream of a naked man. (You know who you are…)
47. Never rub soap on your skin on a Friday.
48. Don’t look into a mirror over another’s shoulder.
49. Avoid combing your hair after dark.
50. Absolutely no haircuts in March.
51. Let a baby’s hair and fingernails grow until their 1st birthday.
52. Don’t let two people comb your hair at once.
53. Never shave at night.
54. NEVER, EVER share a razor used by a dead man.
55. Never hold a funeral on a Friday.
56. When a person dies in a house, you must immediately cover all mirrors and stop all clocks.
57. Children should not pretend to have funerals.
58. Don’t ever try on a mourning veil.
59. Always remove a dead body from a house feet first.
60. Never ride in a hearse, unless you are the driver.
61. Don’t count the cars in a funeral motorcade.
62. Avoid wearing new clothes to a funeral, especially new shoes.
63. Pull the shades in a room where a funeral service is taking place; if the sun hits a mourner’s face, he is the next to die.
64. When walking in a funeral procession, don’t look backwards.
65. Never point at a grave.
66. Try not to step across a grave.
67. Never leave a grave open overnight.
68. Don’t ever be the first to leave the graveyard after a funeral. (And hope that not everyone else follows this rule, too…)
69. If a corpse lies unburied on Sunday, another in town will surely die soon.
70. Wait a year before putting up a tombstone for a family member; if you don’t, another family member will go before the year has ended.
GENERAL AND MISCELLANEOUS
71. Drink May rainwater.
72. When sick, don’t look in mirrors.
73. Don’t give a person a peony.
74. Never measure your own height.
75. Try not to imagine it’s Saturday when it’s not.
76. Don’t count cars on a passenger train.
77. Never whistle in a coal mine.
78. Avoid measuring a person who is lying down.
79. Don’t walk backwards.
80. You mustn’t allow a candle to burn itself out.
81. Never sell a dog.
82. Try not to kill a crow; but if you do, be sure to bury it while wearing black.
83. If you transplant a cedar tree, you will die by the time it is big enough to shade a grave.
84. The same is true of a willow tree (as in 83)
85. Don’t ever hang your hoe on a tree branch.
86. Don’t skip a row when planting corn or beans.
87. If you watch a person out of sight, you’ll never see them again.
88. Avoid stepping over a person who is lying down.
89. When your name is called, don’t answer the first time—it may be the Devil calling you.
90. Never shake hands through a window or over a fence.
91. Try not to sit with your back to the fire.
92. Don’t burn sassafras wood.
93. If you walk with your hands locked behind your head, it will kill your mother.
94. Don’t even THINK of mocking an owl. (Who?)
95. Don’t store your shoes above your head.
96. Never kill a locust.
97. Never kill a lizard.
98. If you hear a hen crow, you must kill the hen.
99. If you are on a train when a woman boards, dressed in black, get off.
100. Whatever you do, don’t let a lizard count your teeth. (Seriously, just DON’T.)
Do you know any folklore like the above? A saying passed down from parents or grandparents? Let us know in the comments!
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2019 April 8
AZURE Vapor Tracers over Norway
Image Credit & Copyright: Yang Sutie
Explanation: What’s happening in the sky? The atmosphere over northern Norway appeared quite strange for about 30 minutes last Friday when colorful clouds, dots, and plumes suddenly appeared. The colors were actually created by the NASA-funded Auroral Zone Upwelling Rocket Experiment (AZURE) which dispersed gas tracers to probe winds in Earth’s upper atmosphere. AZURE’s tracersoriginated from two short-lived sounding rockets launched from the Andøya Space Center in Norway. The harmless gases, trimethylaluminum and a barium/strontium mixture, were released into theionosphere at altitudes of 115 and 250 km. The vapor trails were observed dispersing from several ground stations. Mapping how AZURE’s vapors dispersed should increase humanity’s understanding of how the solar wind transfers energy to the Earth and powers aurora.
Moon, Mars, Pleiades on April 7 to 9
Generally, any moon that’s less than one day old (or 24 hours past new moon) is hard to spot with the eye alone, or, sometimes, even with binoculars. For the most of the world, however, the moon was over a day old after sunset on Saturday evening (April 6, 2019). And so we heard from many people today who saw the April 6 young moon, a fleet little moon that appeared in the west at evening twilight on Saturday, then set before nightfall. If you missed it, check out the young moon photos posted at EarthSky Community Photos. Or just look outside in the coming evenings, after the sun goes down.
The moon will be waxing larger and appearing farther from the sunset each evening. On April 7 to 9, you can watch as the moon sweeps up past the red planet Mars, the famous Pleiades star cluster – also called the Seven Sisters – and the red star Aldebaran, which represents the Eye of the Bull in the constellation Taurus.
If you have clear skies, watch for the moon on each of the coming evenings. And realize that the moon’s motion upward away from the sunset from night to night is due to its motion in orbit around Earth. Each hour, the moon in its orbit edges its own angular diameter farther from the sun on the sky’s dome. Thus, the widening lunar crescent stays out a little longer after sundown.
Also, as it moves away from our line of sight to the sun, the sliver of the moon’s daytime side turns increasingly toward Earth.
In other words, the older the moon gets (the farther it is from new moon), the easier it becomes to see … farther from the sunset, with more of its illuminated side showing.
By the way, young moons in early spring are usually much easier to catch than young moons in early autumn. That’s because the ecliptic – the approximate monthly pathway of the moon – hits the sunset horizon at a steep angle in spring yet a shallow angle in autumn. And since it’s now spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, you’d normally expect this April young moon to be more easily viewed in the Northern Hemisphere.
But this time around, the April 2019 new moon passed 5 degrees (10 moon-diameters) south of the ecliptic, greatly negating the Northern Hemisphere’s advantage and the Southern Hemisphere’s disadvantage.
That’s probably why we saw so many young moon photos today. They were coming in from various spots arounds the globe.
And if you live at temperate latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere, be mindful that the sparse moonlight over these next several evenings may provide you with your last good opportunity to view the post-dusk zodiacal light until next year.
Bottom line: After sunset on April 7 to 9, 2019, watch for the young waxing crescent moon to widen day by day as it climbs upward toward the red planet Mars, the Pleiades star cluster and the ruddy star Aldebaran.
Bruce McClure has served as lead writer for EarthSky’s popular Tonight pages since 2004. He’s a sundial aficionado, whose love for the heavens has taken him to Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and sailing in the North Atlantic, where he earned his celestial navigation certificate through the School of Ocean Sailing and Navigation. He also writes and hosts public astronomy programs and planetarium programs in and around his home in upstate New York.
Published on EarthSky
And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.
My, grandma, what big teeth you have, lol!