Are there certain days where you must avoid taking unnecessary risks such as getting married, being born and bleeding? Which is the most appropriate day for sullying the right-hand-side-back tyre of a bus with your urine? Does yelling “Swallow, swallow take my freckles, and give me rosy cheeks”, on a particular day get rid of those damned spots? In a highly interesting, humorous, and informational read, Liza Frank introduces us to rituals that ensure that the 365 days in a year are never the same again! Falling under the categories of Animal, Plant and Food lore, Apotropaic Magic & the Supernatural, Calendar Custom, Divination and Remedy etc. make and mar the year.
The book begins with an extremely helpful albeit probabilistic advice to start the year off on an enthusiastic note. On the 1st of January, all those seeking good fortune (and who doesn’t) are seriously recommended to dance round a cow wearing a flat cake on its horns. If the non-plussed bovine throws the cake forwards, good fortune is a certainty. However, if the flustered cow hurls the cake backwards, be ready for a dose of misfortune!
On the 20th of February, when Pisces takes over from Aquarius, we are informed that studied attention needs to be paid to the feet. Frostbitten toes may find relief upon the sufferer running around his/her home three times without looking back. In the event the problem is not frost bite but blisters, please check the surrounding environs for a weasel. Making one suck on the blisters while the owner of the afflicted feet is asleep offers remedy.
In a mood to carry your spouse in a mad race? Enter the Dorking Wife-Carrying Race on the 16th of March. If a contestant’s wife is below 50 kilograms in weight, her spouse is handed a \a rucksack full of tinned goods to make up for the deficiency. The race itself is over 380 metres, including a 15-metre incline, need to navigate hay bales and a water hazard. The couple standing last will receive a Pot Noodle and a tin of dog food. The victors – a ticket to represent the UK in the World Wife Carrying Championships in Finland, where all this started in 1992. I honestly do not know which is worse, whether winning or finishing last!
Bats are generally, and for good reasons, not the most loved mammals on the planet. However, you still have an opportunity to appreciate them for whatever good they may have done. 17th April is International Bat Appreciation Day. According to Chinese folklore, sewing a bat-shaped jade button on to the cap of a newborn is akin to gifting the baby happiness and longevity.
Not an intrepid sailor? Fret not. 30 June, the day after the midsummer end is a very safe way to venture out into the sea. Notwithstanding the good tidings, even if one is apprehensive of the waters, there are a few remedies ranging from the nice to the nauseating. So here goes:
- fasting for one day before you travel.
- Restrict your diet to a mixture of sweet-smelling wine mixed with ground boiled lentils and mint.
- Drink the urine of a young boy.
- Secrete a lump of earth under your hair from your kitchen hearth.
- Seal your stomach with marmalade.
I know not whether this ought to be executed in sequential fashion. If yes, I would sincerely recommend omitting the third step.
Everyday Folklore is packed with oddities such as the above, to the rafters. Some of the warnings, recommendations and practices are downright funny. They will have the reader in splits! And yes, on the 12th of April 1961 just a few hours before Yuri Gagarin shot out into space, folklore has it that he stopped the bus that was transporting him to the launch site and promptly relieved himself on the right-hand-side back tyre, thereby setting off a tradition amongst all men cosmonauts. However, not to be left behind, women cosmonauts bring prefilled vials and splash the contents on the right-hand-side-back tyre of their transport vehicles!
Everyday Folklore: An Almanac for the Ritual Year – an unpredictable journey over uncharted territories and untested waters!