The Origin Of Omens and Superstitions.

People have long believed in omens, tried in various ways to explain the complex structure of the world, success or failure in business. Let’s figure out how superstitions appeared, what scared people in the peasant horror stories and what practical meaning many of the superstitions had.

What superstitions are and how they appeared.

Unexpected events in life, tragic and happy accidents, were often explained by the peasants with the intrigues of mythological creatures. There were many beliefs that were reflected in different genres of folklore - in songs and fairy tales, legends and traditions.

Ethnographer Vladimir Dahl defined beliefs as "any opinion or concept rooted in the people, without a reasonable account of its solidity." Researchers associate the persistence of superstitions with the peculiarity of memory: if the omen accidentally triggered, this fact was remembered, and most other cases when the omen did not work were forgotten. A person connects his actions and mythical beliefs: superstitious people utter magic words, wear amulets and talismans. Superstitions often become entertainment, which is why horoscopes and fortune-telling are so popular.

Many of the old beliefs explained how to behave when meeting with representatives of the lower demonology - mermaids, goblin and brownies. Others existed in the form of superstitions. For example, the howling of a dog or the cry of an owl was interpreted as harbingers of misfortune; and rain at the beginning of any business was considered a good sign.

Mythological stories reflected the superstitions that existed in traditions: the other world was inexplicable and frightening, and the hero could die a terrible death if he did not follow the laws of communication with evil spirits. The stories were constantly changing and enriching, over time they became more and more like fairy tales or anecdotes.

In the villages many superstitions were associated with bathshouses (saunas). People performed rituals related to the birth of a child, weddings and funerals in the bathhouses. According to legend, the bath keeper lived here - a special brownie, an unkind spirit. He was represented as a dirty, naked old man in the leaves from a broom. If the bath keeper got angry, he could steam a person to death. After midnight, they did not go to the bathhouse - they believed that at this time the evil spirit came out to bathe itself.

Mystical and everyday signs.

Omens are belief in signs that predict the future. Historians and folklorists usually identify two types of such signs: some of them arose from constant observations of nature and others appeared from mystical ideas about the world.

At the heart of mythical signs lies superstition, they have no rational explanation. In the peasant environment, they were traditionally passed down from generation to generation. For example, if the dogs roll on the ground – there will be rain or snow. There were also fun signs, for example, if a person sneezed during a conversation, it means that he is telling the truth.

Signs helped people determine when to sow and harvest, what the weather will be like in the near future. The peasants linked natural phenomena and calendar dates: they noticed when it rained, when there was dew, frost and fog, and made a long-term forecast.

Weather signs also arose from observations. They interpreted the changes of the moon, the direction and strength of the wind, the color of the sun at sunrise and sunset: "If the sun sets red, this means it will be windy the next day ", "If a lighted torch cracks and bursts sparks, then it is worth waiting for bad weather." Indeed, due to the humid air before the rain, the tree could become damp, and sparks flew from the torch. But at the same time, many weather signs did not have a logical explanation, for example, "If your ears are itching – there will be rain."

Many omens and superstitions were related to insects that people saw around. For example, people watched the behavior of spiders in their houses, when they were falling or crawling and explained a lot of spider omens and their meaning.

Everyday signs related to the household and everyday life regulated the norms of behavior in the house or warned of danger, protecting from injuries and illnesses. In traditional culture, bread was respected, it was considered a great sin to throw it away; even moldy bread was given to birds. Signs associated with baking have survived:

If someone does not finish eating a piece of bread and breaks off another, this is a sign that one of his relatives suffers hunger.

If you take the bread out of the oven and it turns over, you will have profit.

If you drop bread or crumbs on the floor, expect hunger and crop failure.

In the XX century, cities grew; the traditional way of life was destroyed. Over time, many omens were forgotten, others passed into urban culture. The original meaning of many superstitions that have survived to this day has been lost or distorted, because living conditions have changed. Despite this, superstitions persist and are still prevalent today. Even professional signs appeared, for example, the superstitions of medical workers or students.

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