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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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WASHING ON SUNDAY'S IS A NO-NO

"MY MOTHER TOLD ME WHEN I WAS A CHILD THAT IT IS
CONSIDERED A SIN IF YOU WASH ON SUNDAYS."

Submitter comment: I ASKED HER IS IT A SIN TO WASH CLOTHES ONLY. SHE
SAID IT MEANT IF YOU WASH ANYTHING IT IS CONSIDERED
A SIN.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Measure of time WeekDayHour
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working

Date learned: 00-00-1967 ; 10-00-1985

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DONT DO ANY WORK ON SUNDAY, BECAUSE IT'S CONSIDERED BAD LUCK.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Measure of time WeekDayHour
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working
BELIEF -- Bad luck

Date learned: 11-18-1987

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DON'T SWEEP ON A PERSON'S FEET OR THEY WON'T GET MARRIED.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Body part Senses
BELIEF -- Marriage
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working

Date learned: 10-00-1987

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If someone offers to finish sweeping the floor
for you after you have already started, you
must not let them, but do it yourself.

Where learned: KANSAS ; Manhattan

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working

Date learned: 00001920S

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IF YOU ARE HIT BY A BROOM WHILE SOMEONE IS SWEEPING IT IS
BAD LUCK, BECAUSE YOU COULD GO TO JAIL IF HIT.

Where learned: TENNESSEE ; MARTIN

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Measure of time Working
BELIEF -- Bad luck Broom Sweeping

Date learned: 00001947CA

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Washing your clothes after the sun sets will bring good luck
the next day. Washing your clothes during the day will bring
bad luck on the following day, but only if those same clothes
are worn.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): Dusk, Night

Subject headings: ART CRAFT ARCHITECTURE -- Dress
BELIEF -- Measure of time WeekDayHour
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working
BELIEF -- Good luck
BELIEF -- Bad luck

Date learned: 00-00-1984

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Tale of Kate Elshender

A woman in the highlands, Named Kate Elshender, went to
a quarry hole to wash her clothes. As she passed the
village shop, she went in and bought a half pound of
soap and proceeded to wash; the soap slipped from her
hands, and she went back and bought another half pound.
The shopkeeper warned her to be careful, remembering the
old superstition...(when soap slips from your hand it
means death)...It slipped from her hands once again and
she returned for a third half pound of soap. This time
the shopkeeper was thoroughly frightened and begged her
not to go back again, but Kate went. Shortly after the
shopkeeper went to the quarry to find no one there. She
gave the alarm, and Kate Elshender was discovered drowned
at the bottom of the quarry hole.

Where learned: ENGLAND ; LONDON

Keyword(s): BAD LUCK

Subject headings: Observation
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Still water Small body. Lake, pond....
BELIEF -- P447
BELIEF -- Death Funeral Burial
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working

Date learned: 00-00-1991

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If someone sweeps your feet with a broom you must do seven
complete turns and spit on the broom three times or you will soon go
to jail.

James Callow comment: For earlier African-American predictions that sweeping one's feet
can send that person to jail see Puckett, "Folk Beliefs of the
Southern Negro," p. 397; the informants were from Alabama and
Georgia. Puckett, Ohio, nos. 20562-20572 also equate brooms and
sweeping with arrest and jail. Note that almost all the informants
are listed as Negro. No. 20573 contains three examples of converting
the consequences by spitting on the broom, but none of these
informants, two of whom are Negro, prescribes a certain number of
times for this action.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: 686 Thirds / Thrice / Three / Triple
686 Seven / Sevenths / Several
Favorites
BELIEF -- Body part Senses Feet, toes, toenails
BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working
BELIEF -- Bad luck
BELIEF -- Conversions Broom Sweeping
SPEECH -- Magical Conversions

Date learned: 00-00-1978

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Never do laundry on New Year's Day or you will wash someone out
of the family. My mother did it once, two loads of colored clothes
and one load of white clothes. Two of the darker family members died
and the lightest also passed.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Favorites
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- January 1 New Year's
BELIEF -- Death Funeral Burial
BELIEF -- Measure of time Year
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working
BELIEF -- Color

Date learned: 00-00-1982

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Do not wash clothes on New Year's Day because you'll wash a
person out of your family. The informant's mother died on January
15, 1982 right after the oldest sister washed clothes on January 1,
1982. The informant's mother was very upset because she was very
sick and she did die.

Subject headings: Favorites
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- January 1 New Year's
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Typical Elements of a Festive Pattern
BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
BELIEF -- Death Funeral Burial
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working

Date learned: 00-00-1955

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It's said that if you sweep your trash off your porch after
dark, a police officer will come to your house and take one of your
family members to jail.

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
BELIEF -- Measure of time WeekDayHour
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working

Date learned: 00-00-1955

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If you sweep trash in the middle of the floor and leave it,
you may receive company.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Observation
BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working

Date learned: 00-00-1980

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New Year's Day belief

Never wash clothes on New Year's Day or you will wash someone
out of your family.

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- January 1 New Year's
BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working

Date learned: 00-00-1978

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Japan -- Sun

In Japan, women only dry clothes in the sun. It is believed that
the Sun Goddess frowns on any clothes dried in dryers.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; WESTLAND

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Gods
BELIEF -- Sun
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working

Date learned: 01-00-1990

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DON'T SWEEP A PERSON'S FEET, WITH A BROOM, OR THEY WILL GO TO
JAIL.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working
BELIEF -- Bad luck

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IF YOU SEW ON SUNDAY, IT'S BAD LUCK.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT WAS TOLD THIS BY HIS PENNSYLVANIA MOTHER
IN HIS CHILDHOOD.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Measure of time WeekDayHour
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working
BELIEF -- Bad luck Activities
BELIEF -- Bad luck Time (year, season, week, hour, etc.) Occasion Event

Date learned: 01-12-1967

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A HOUSEWIFE CANNOT CUT DRESS MATERIAL ON A FRIDAY.
THIS WILL BRING BAD LUCK WHEN THE DRESS IS WORN.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; MILFORD

James Callow Keyword(s): SEWING

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Measure of time WeekDayHour
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working
BELIEF -- Bad luck Activities
BELIEF -- Bad luck Time (year, season, week, hour, etc.) Occasion Event

Date learned: 09-22-1968

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IF YOU ARE SEWING AND USING A THIMBLE, AND LOSE THE
THIMBLE THROW THE GARMENT OUT, NO MATTER WHAT IT IS
FOR IT CAN ONLY BRING BAD LUCK.

Where learned: NOT GIVEN

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working
BELIEF -- Bad luck Activities

Date learned: 09-00-1969

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IT IS BAD LUCK TO SEW ON A PERSON. MY MOTHER-IN-LAW
WHO IS GREEK, IS A FIRM BELIEVER OF THIS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working
BELIEF -- Bad luck Activities

Date learned: 06-29-1964

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