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Sweep Away Your Troubles … Or Not!

by Shelly Kneupper Tucker on August 1, 2013©

antique broomIt was once a commonly believed superstition that witches flew through the night sky on broomsticks. Who can blame them after seeing the lines at airport security? Seriously, people believed that in the fourteenth century. After a little research on folklore from long ago, I was amazed at how many superstitions there are about brooms. Not too many of them are good! It seems to me that you cannot sweep away your troubles.

  1. In some cultures, a couple hops a broom together to signify their intent to live as man and wife. However, in most cases stepping over a broom is not a good idea! If a child steps over a broom, the kid will grow up to be lazy. If a young girl accidentally steps over a broom handle, she will become a mother before she becomes a wife (I had no clue that this was how it happened…). It’s generally bad luck to step over (or walk upon) a broom, but if you trip over a broom it brings good luck. Go figure. Under no circumstances step backwards over a broom!
  2. It’s good luck to take a new broom into a house to sweep out any old troubles … but it’s bad luck if the broom is the first thing you take into the house! You should never take an old broom into a new house, because you will just bring your troubles with you (never use anyone else’s broom, because you just acquire their troubles!). That new broom should only sweep something out of a house after it has swept something into it. It’s a little bit daunting, isn’t it?
  3. Stirring the fire with a broom … well, duh … is bad luck.
  4. “Buy a broom in May, and sweep your friends away.”
  5. If someone is sweeping towards you when you enter the house, there will be a death soon.
  6. It is bad luck to sweep the floor after dark (it might hurt a wandering soul or sweep away your happiness). Bad luck will follow you if you sweep upstairs in the afternoon. If I keep looking, I’ll discover that it is bad luck to sweep at any time of day!
  7. Don’t sweep the floor in the room where a departing guest stayed until after they have been gone for three days … or else your sweeping will bring the guest back. That could be good luck or bad, considering the guest.
  8. It’s bad luck to stand a broom on the bristle end of it. It’s also bad luck if a broom falls on you. If you stand a broom on the handle, it is likely to fall … so how do you get around this one? The only thing I can tell you for sure about this one is that if you stand a broom on the bristle end it gets bent out of shape and doesn’t sweep as well.
  9. If you hit someone with a broom it will make them lazy. However, in Nigeria there is a belief that if a man is hit with a broom it will make him impotent unless he grabs the offending broom and strikes it seven times. Hitting someone else with a broom will bring you bad luck.
  10. It brings bad luck to sweep dirt from a room out of the door. If you sweep dirt out of your door during the first part of the week, you will have bad luck all week. I’m not sure what you are supposed to do with the dirt …
  11. Never allow anyone to sweep under your feet or over your feet. If they sweep under your feet you are likely to die soon. If they sweep over your feet you will never find true love.
  12. It’s bad luck to carry a broom over water, or to burn a broom, or to pass it through a window.
  13. To keep ghosts, demons, witches, and the like out of your house simply lean a broom across a doorway. I’m not so sure about this one, because if that broom falls into the doorway it will bring bad luck to the next person who passes through. And, what if those evil spirits are already inside? Do they get trapped in there with you?

I don’t know about you, but at this point, I’m trying to figure out how to get rid of my broom. Maybe I will bury it (I haven’t found any superstitions about that …yet).

I’m not sure if these superstitions apply to vacuum cleaners and Swiffer sweepers … but what if they do? The house has to be swept! I have five cats whose sole purpose in life is to make sure I never stop sweeping up after them. Tiny little spiders are constantly spinning cobwebs around the house, too. I guess I can leave those webs and say that I’m getting an early start on my Halloween decorations, but I don’t know how I could explain the cat hair. I don’t know what I will do if I need to fly anywhere …

If you are superstitious, forget about sweeping away your troubles! It seems as if handling a broom is a dangerous activity at best. This makes as good a case as any to hire a housekeeping service. That sounds to me like money well spent.

{ 8 comments }

Lenora August 1, 2013 at 4:55 pm

I’ve always been told that is someone sweeps under your feet, it means you will marry soon.

Shelly Kneupper Tucker August 6, 2013 at 6:13 am

Actually, Lenora, I like your superstition better!

Lenora August 6, 2013 at 5:52 pm

In the past, when I cleaned in a large facility here in Denton, there were more people who said “Sweep under my feet, I don’t want to get married again” than those who openly admitted they would like to be married again (or at all).

Shelly Kneupper Tucker August 7, 2013 at 3:09 am

I have always lifted my feet to let folks sweep under me. Once, I offered to do that, and the person sweeping warned me that I wouldn’t get married again … they swept anyway … and I still got married, so go figure ;-)

LuAnn Braley August 2, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Good gravy, I had no idea there was so much broom lore!

Shelly Kneupper Tucker August 6, 2013 at 6:13 am

Kinda sweeps you off your feet, doesn’t it? heh, heh

Jeni Hill Ertmer August 4, 2013 at 10:25 pm

I have the same problem with one cat and one dog -who have both shed so many, many hairs in this house, I should have had enough long ago to use to weave a full sized rug for my living room! (And that only with 2 animals!!!) However, my son and his former girlfriend had a great use for a broom -or the hose to the vacuum cleaner -in that they would lay it on the sofa when they went to work in the morning and it would keep their big German Shepherd/Akita mix dog off the sofa while they were away! So I tried that, using the vacuum cleaner hose though, on my sofa in hopes it would keep the dog from getting up on the sofa and occasionally using a cushion for his own private commode. Not something I felt too nicely towards him on those occasions. I can’t say it has worked 100% with him but as long as I’ve been doing that now -for about the past 6 weeks now -he’s only found a way to use a cushion about 3 times, compared to almost daily “accidents.” Maybe I found a secret cure there? The key with this is also tied in with the factor that the animal is already afraid of the vacuum or the broom though. Considering I think I’ve probably violated a goodly number of the things you should NOT do with a broom, I’m not sure if its those errors on my part that is perhaps ruining my luck in winning -or not winning, I should say -the lottery or finding a partner in a relationship or well, just about anything that might go wrong in life and does, when we stop and think about it with the superstitions running rampant in the mind. I just keep going and sweeping and not really thinking about whether this is a good way to use a broom or not which may or may not explain anything over all anyway. Right?

Shelly Kneupper Tucker August 6, 2013 at 6:16 am

Jeni, I don’t think many of us are going to win the lottery anyway, and I’m not superstitious. You can keep on using your broom any way you like. I just like reading the old superstitions, and will probably share them with you and hope they don’t make you nervous.

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