Have a merry superstitious Christmas

A surprising number of superstitions hover around Christmas and, since Christmas falls in the year’s dying days, death and evil spirits lurk around its traditions. For example, if someone’s shadow lacks a head, that person will die before the next Christmas.

But there’s good luck too — the Yule log’s ashes offer protection against lightning.

The weather during the Twelve Days of Christmas foretells what is in store for the corresponding months of the coming year.

Those twelve days begin December 25 and continue until January 6, Epiphany. Epiphany marks the manifestation (revelation) of Christ to the Magi.

All decorations, including the tree, must be gone by twelfth night. Some people believe they shouldn’t be removed until that day.

Several Christmas superstitions involve food. It’s lucky to eat mince pie on each of the Twelve Days of Christmas and, the Christmas pudding must contain 13 ingredients — one for Jesus, and one each  for the 12 Apostles. This pudding is stirred from east to west, and each family member must stir it three times to honour the three Magi who came from the East. Make sure a coin is placed in the pudding dough. The serving containing that coin brings luck to the person who gets it.

Strangely, it’s bad luck to give shoes as a Christmas gift because the recipient will then walk out of your life. It’s also bad luck to wear new shoes on Christmas day.

Never wash a gift before giving it. You’ll wash away the good luck if you do.

You will experience disaster if you turn on a light before the first star appears in the sky on Christmas Eve. And keep a lighted candle in the window to guide Mary and Joseph. If you don’t, you are telling them, “No room.” That candle must burn all night or until it’s used up. As well, your Yule candle must be a gift, not a candle you bought yourself.

People born Christmas Day will be lucky all their lives. Not only that, they’ll never drown or be hanged. However, in Greece, such people might become wandering spirits and, in Poland, they could be werewolves.

At midnight, Christmas Eve, animals turn to the East and kneel. They’re believed to have the ability to speak at that time too.

All evergreens symbolize eternal life. It’s why we bring them indoors. Holly protects us from witches and other evil spirits. Mistletoe represents fertility and undying love. It is also the “plant of peace.” Truces have been declared by kissing under the mistletoe.

Every Christmas tree needle remaining in the house once the tree is gone will attract a goblin. And don’t simply pitch your tree out the door, as that will summon evil spirits and goblins. Some say there’ll be a death in the family within the year. A tree must be burned once it’s taken down.

And never never, never turn carollers away empty-handed. That will kill all your good luck in the approaching year.

Don’t be discouraged by all these dos and don’ts. Try to have a wonderful Twelve Days of Christmas.