Some old wives’ tales contain nuggets of truth

I’m sure most of you readers, at one time or another, had someone say, “That’s an old wives’ tale.” Some thought the tales were merely superstitions, while others considered them to contain some truths.

These tales are said to have been passed down by older women to the younger generation. The tales often discouraged bad behavior or encouraged ways to stay healthy.

Wives’ tales have been told for centuries. In fact, the King James Bible 1 Timothy 4:7 has Apostle Paul writing to Timothy, “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables and exercise thyself unto godliness.”

When I was a child, my dad told me to eat my carrots so I wouldn’t need glasses. “You never saw a rabbit wearing glasses, did you?” he would ask.

I broke a mirror once and was convinced seven years of bad luck would follow. Subsequently, when something bad happened, I was sure it was because of the broken mirror.

My hubby said he was told about the bad luck you would have if a black cat crossed your path. When he was a young boy, he ran in another direction when a black cat was nearby.

We never opened an umbrella indoors. I wasn’t allowed to go swimming until an hour after I had eaten because it was believed stomach cramps could occur.

We refrained from making ugly faces because we were told our faces might stay that way.

Some of the wives’ tales were quite scary. For instance, if a person died and their eyes remained open, they were looking for someone to take along to their final destination. To prevent this, a family member would often close the eyes and place pennies on the eyelids to prevent them from opening again.

Another old tale was if you hear a knock at your front door and find no one there, open the door wide for a couple of seconds. This will let a good spirit in, but if there are more knocks, don’t answer, you might be letting an evil spirit in. If there is a knock at the back door, it is the devil himself looking to come in.

Some claimed if a doorbell rings continuously for no reason, something bad has happened or will happen soon. Whitney Houston’s mother said her doorbell rang continuously the day her daughter died.

Actually, a few of those old tales our grandmothers used to tell us aren’t all that far off the mark, according to some data. A recent study showed an apple a day, does keep the doctor away. Those who eat an apple a day have delayed or prevented heart attacks/strokes.

It has been proven a full moon does actually have an effect on both humans and animals. The old wives hinted for years that a full moon caused strange behavior. One study recently found it affects the nervous system and people find it is more difficult to sleep around the time of a full moon.

The old tale that long hard labor means it’s a boy has actually been fairly accurate. A recent study found that women who give birth to baby boys are more likely to run into complications because boys are generally larger and heavier at birth than girls, and they have a larger head.

Eating chicken soup when you have a cold turns out to have some truth in it. Scientists discovered that chicken soup can reduce inflammation by slowing down the white blood cell activity responsible for causing the inflammation.

The old tale heartburn in pregnancy means you’re going to have a hairy baby has recently been confirmed by a study at Johns Hopkins University. A large percentage of women who endured horrible heartburn did, in fact, give birth to babies that had more than the average amount of hair.

Have you ever heard the tale fish is brain food? Well, a recent Harvard study agrees. The more fish mothers ate during their second trimester of pregnancy, the better their babies did on tests when they were six months old.

I’ve heard the wives’ tale about a wild bird flying into one’s house causing bad luck, possibly even death. Lucille Ball had a great fear of birds. Her father died when she was three years old. She recalled a picture fell from the wall that day, and a bird flew in the window and became trapped inside the house. Even as an adult, she refused to stay in any hotel that displayed pictures of birds, either framed or on wallpaper.

Not everyone would think a bird in a house is bad luck. In fact, our cat, Mittens, would think it was her lucky day!

The answer to last week’s question: The factory that made cheese boxes and crates was Iwen Box and Veneer Co.

This week’s question: Who was the publisher of the Shawano Evening Leader from 1940-1975?

Lorna Marquardt is a former mayor of Shawano.