1240. If salt water pigeons' feathers are in a bed, the sick person on
it will not die easily.
1241. In old colonial burying-grounds--in Plymouth, Concord, Cambridge,
and Rutland, Mass.--the graves are so placed that the headstones face
west, that is, the body lies with the feet toward the east.
Perhaps general in New England.
1242. Among Irish Catholics it is usual to place the body with the feet
toward the door. The body of a young girl is usually draped in the robes
of the society to which in her church she belonged. Over the corpse is
constructed a white canopy, from one end of which images of white doves
are often hung. At the feet is a stand or table, on which flowers are
laid, and where, at night, candles are kept burning.
1243. Country people turn the mirror to face the wall while one lies dead
in the house.
1244. While the corpse is in the house, the looking-glass must be turned
toward the wall; otherwise, whoever looks into the mirror will die within
the year. This custom is said to be most common among Irish Catholics,
but it is not confined to them.
1245. Bad luck (instead of death) is also said to follow violation of
1246. If, when any one dies, you put the coffin in any other room than
the one the corpse is in, some other member of the family will die within
1247. I have noticed at funerals of the aged, that when elderly people
passed by the casket they would touch the forehead of the dead person. I
was confident that there was some superstition connected with the act,
because the same look was apparent on every face; but on being asked why
this was done, they pretended it was bidding an old comrade good-bye. At
last one told me that it was that they might not dream of the dead or see
1248. It is usual, after the conclusion of the funeral service, for the
persons present at the ceremony to pass in front of the dead, and look on
the face. Not to perform this token of respect is felt as a lack of
propriety. It is not uncommon for the undertaker, or some person in
charge of the proceedings, to say in a loud voice: An opportunity is now
offered to those who desire to look on the face of the corpse, or words
to that effect.
General in the United States.
1249. Only male relatives take part in the funeral procession.
1250. In regard to the ceremonies at the grave, usage differs widely. In
New England it is usual for near relatives to attend; and, in the case of
important persons, for a procession to march to the cemetery. Among
Catholics a great number of friends attend the hearse of persons in
1251. It is an old Connecticut custom that the yard gate should never be
shut after being opened to let through a body being carried from its
former home to the graveyard.
1252. The funeral procession must not cross a river.
1253. I was first led to notice the superstition about crossing a river,
from having to attend funerals on the south side, when they would
otherwise have been held on the north side. This is losing ground, owing
to the frequency of crossing to reach the cemetery, but I had an instance
only last spring.
1254. The corpse must not pass twice over any part of the same road.
1255. It is unlucky in a funeral, for those present to repass the house
where death has occurred.
1256. At a funeral, entering church before the mourners means death to
some of the entering party.
1257. It is a bad sign to drive past a funeral procession.
1258. It is unlucky to pass through a funeral procession, either between
the carriages or the files of mourners on foot.
This is a general superstition. The custom, which has become instinctive
with many persons, is usually set down to the score of decency and
General in the United States.
1259. To meet a funeral is bad luck. To avert it, turn round and take
three steps backward before going on.
St. John, N.B.
1260. It is bad luck to meet a corpse. One may follow it, but never meet
it. A colored person will turn square about on seeing a funeral
Talladega, Ala., and Virginia.
1261. To keep the corpse in the house over Sunday will bring death in the
family before the year is out.
South Framingham, Mass.
1262. If the grave is left open over Sunday, another death will occur
before the Sunday following.
1263. If a grave is covered on Friday, another in the same family will
follow inside of a year.
1264. If a grave is left open over night without the corpse, another
death in the family will soon follow.
1265. It is bad to disturb an old grave, as by putting up a tombstone;
you will thus herald a death.
1266. Many will not go through a graveyard on the way to call on friends,
for fear of bringing death into the house.
1267. The clothes of the dead wear out quickly.
1268. The clothes of the dead never wear long when used by the living.
1269. If you put clothes of a live person on a corpse, when the clothes
decay the owner will die.
St. Joseph, Mo.
1270. It is quite customary, both in the United States and in Canada, to
give the whole house a thorough cleaning after a death has occurred, even
when the deceased has undergone no prolonged illness and has died of no
contagious disease. A day or two after the funeral one sometimes sees,
particularly in country homes, feather beds, mattresses, etc., etc., put
out to air. Sometimes even rooms are whitewashed in the purification