Folklore and superstitions about love and romance from around the world and through the ages
The list is approximately alphabetical with folklore about certain dates, like Christmas, at the end.
(Although the majority of love folklore is written about women seeking love the folklore will also work for men seeking mates.)
Take an apple and begin to twist the stem while reciting the alphabet ...the letter it stops on when the stem falls off will be the initial of your own true love. A variation of this is if you are trying to decide between more then one love. Repeat their names in order as you twist the stem and the name you end with as the stem falls off will be the person you will wed.
Remove the skin of an apple in one continuous peeling and throw it over your shoulder. If the peeling breaks you will not see them, but if it remains whole, you will see them soon.
Name apple seeds for the ones in whom you are interested and place them on a grate. The seed that jumps first will show by whom you are loved.
Wet as many apple seeds as you have beaus, then name and shoot them up towards the ceiling. The seed that stick to the ceiling the name of the one who loves you most.
Press against your forehead the
seeds of an apple, the number of those
which do not fall off will tell how many days it will be until you see your beau.
A Halloween game was for all the unmarried young people to fasten an apple on a string and twirl it around before a hot fire. The one whose apple fell off first would be the first to marry.
If the apple is peeled in one long strip, and the peeling thrown backwards over the left shoulder, the shape it made will show the initial of the future wife or husband.
A girl's beau is thinking about her, if her apron becomes unfastened and drops off.
According to Oriental custom the bachelor button held magical powers for men. Young men in love put these flowers in their pockets to forecast their future happiness in love and marriage. The flower was picked in the early morning when it was still covered with dew....placed in a pocket...and not looked at again for twenty-four hours. If the flower was still bright and fresh or "true blue" then the forecast was for wedded bliss but, if the flower had withered and faded the the outlook for happiness was bleak. (note...since, without light or air the chances of the flower remaining fresh were slight, many men did not marry and hence the name of the flower..Bachlor Button)
Before you go to bed, name the corners of your bedroom. The first corner you look at in the morning will indicate which of the four persons named loves you best.
Cut a lemon
in half and rub both pieces on the four posts of your bed,
two halves under your pillow and if you see your beau or husband in a
dream, he is faithful, if you do not dream of him, he has been unfaithful.
A person who eats beets is in love.
When biscuits are burned, the girl's beau is angry with her.
If a girl burns bread while baking it, her true love is very angry with her.
In the fall a maiden should be blindfolded then go into the garden and pull up a cabbage. If the root of the cabbage is straight then she will marry a handsome man but if it is crooked then he will be ugly and, if there should be a large amount of dirt on the root, he will be a man of wealth.
In the Ozarks when a woman received a proposal but not not certain whether or not to accept it she would take some hairs from a cat ...enfold them in a piece of paper ...and place it under her door stoop. In the morning the hairs should have formed themselves in either an N or a Y.
If a woman in love finds a strange cat in her bedroom at night it means that her lover is true.
Tie a knot in a cedar limb and name it for your beloved. If it grows, you are beloved by the one for whom you named the limb.
If a girl's cheeks burn for no reason then her lover is talking about her.
Place chestnuts in a fireplace or on a grate and name them for the loves in your life. The nut which jumps first signifies which one loves you most.
The dream of clover meant you would have a very happy and prosperous marriage.
The girl who finds a one leafed clover will receive a letter from her sweetheart.
A girl will meet her lover on the day she finds a four leafed clover.
If a man and a woman have the same complexion it means their marriage will turn out to be unhappy.
Pick one by one the petals from
a flower, usually a daisy, and repeat,
"He loves me, he loves me not." The last petal of the flower will show you your fate.
If you can, with one breath, blow
off all the seeds from a dandelion seed ball,
your sweetheart loves you.
A dimple on your chin means you have been kissed by cupid.
If you drop a dish rag is a sign that your lover will come to you soon.
A woman who cannot wash dishes without splashing her clothing will find she has a drunkard for a husband.
If a dog follows a woman home it means he is bringing the spirit of a man she will shortly meet.
Anyone fond of dogs will make a good marriage partner.
A burning on your left ear indicates that you are in your beau's thoughts.
f a girl has dirty elbows it means she will marry a poor man.
If your eye quivers then your lover is thinking about you.
Name an eyelash for your lover and blow it away. If you never see the eyelash again, you are loved by him.
If there is a fever blister on someone's lips, it is a sign that they have been kissed.
A white spot on a woman's little finger-nail reveals that she has a sweetheart.
The girl who cuts her fingernails on Saturday will see her sweetheart on Sunday.
If you can make a fire that
burns, your sweetheart or husband loves you.
But, if the fire does not burn well or goes out, you are not loved or being cheated upon.
A fire failing to burn shows that your beau is not busy.
A girl is being thought of by her
sweetheart, if the fire goes out while
she is making it.
If a woman loses her garter on the street it means her husband or boyfriend has been unfaithful
A garter worn by a bride on her wedding day brings good luck. Decades ago it was believed that If a bridesman pulled off the bride's garters just before she entered the bedroom, good luck would also be passed on to him. Eventually this garter-snatching custom evolved into a race between all the male guests of the Wedding Party, and the winner got to wear the garter on his hat. To make the removal easier and less embarrassing for the bride, ribbon streamers were often attached to the garters. This custom later evolved in the removal of the garter by the best man and throwing it (backwards and over the right shoulder) to all the unmarried men in the wedding party. The winner would be the next to marry.
Fill a saucer with water, turn a
glass upside down, strike a match and put it
under the glass; if the water is sucked up into the glass it is a sign
your sweetheart loves you.
The color of the wedding gown
is said to foretell the future happiness of a marriage.
Married in white, you have chosen aright;
Married in red, you'd better be dead;
Married in yellow, ashamed of the fellow;
Married in blue, your lover is true;
Married in green, ashamed to be seen;
Married in black, you'll ride in a hack;
Married in pearl, you'll live in a whirl;
Married in pink, your spirits will sink;
Married in brown, you'll live out of town.
Tradition says that the bride should never make her own gown but that is should be sewn by a happily married woman with children so that the woman's luck will be passed on through the sewing.
The final stitch of the wedding gown should not be completed until the bride is departing for the Church. This is the fool the spirits into believing that the wedding is still a ways off.
A bride should never try on the entire wedding outfit and gown before the day. This was thought to be tempting fate and the spirits to interfere in the wedding...it was also considered to be 'counting her chickens' and could bring bad luck. For the same reason, a Bride should never practice signing her new name until it is legally hers.
Wedding linen was marked with the Brides maiden rather than her married initials so as not to tempt the fates to interfeer by anticipating the event.
The tradition of Bridesmaids is evolved from the custom of surrounding the Bride with other richly dressed women, in order to confuse evil spirits. In many places the bride would not put on her wedding dress until she was in the protected confines of the church itself.
Another possible reason for bridesmaids
from from a Roman law, requiring ten
witnesses at the wedding dressed as the bride and groom to outwit the evil spirits attending happy events and to confuse the Devil so he would not know who was getting married.
In olden times the male would dress as the bride and bride would dress as a male so the evil spirits could not impregnate the bride on her wedding day. (a note...in the series Taxi..the character Latka married in a wedding gown thus keeping the olde tradition alive.)
If you drop the comb while combing
your hair you will see your sweetheart
before your hair gets mussed again.
Look at the lines on the palm of your hand... if they form an M she will marry a man with money.
When a girl places a man's hat on her head it means she desires a kiss.
To hear the call of a hawk means that your beau is approaching.
When you move into a new house,
name the corners of the room in which you sleep
for the ones you love so that you may dream of them each night.
Tie a "lover's knot" with your handkerchief and name the ends for the ones you love. Pull the ends and he you loves you best will have the tightest knot. (note: a lover's knot is a simple knot tied in a piece of ribbon).
Think of your sweetheart when you have the hiccups, if they stop immediately then he loves you but, if they continue then you are not loved by them.
Name holly leaves for the loves in your life and throw them into the fire. The leaf named for the one who loves you best will pop out first.
Honeymoon comes down to us from the ancient Teutons. It was their practice to have the wedding couple drink mead, a wine made from honey, for 30 days, or one moon cycle, after their marriage. From these actions comes the term honeymoon.
In ancient times the groom would literally kidnap the bride from her home and take her away and hide her until her friends and family stopped seeking here. From this ancient custom comes our custom of the honeymoon trip
Hope Chests figure into the lore of many countries. A female was to begin to collect personal items and clothing and household linens and other items she planned on using in her married life. Once placed in the chest they may not be tried on or used else the woman would be condemned to spinster hood.
If a woman has hairy legs it means she will marry into wealth.
In Scotland, for a marriage to be happy, the pastor had to be the first one to kiss the bride.
In many countries the bride had to kiss all the men present to assure her martial happiness.
Another custom found in many countries is that the bride must cry the first time the groom kisses her or she will cry all of her married life.
In modern time, however, the kiss of the groom symbolizes that the marriage vows have now been sealed.
If you let a knife fall, your true love will soon call upon you.
When you get a letter from
your sweetheart, fold it and keep it next to your
heart for three days. On the third night, if you dream of beautiful trees,
your sweetheart is true; if you dream of water, he is false.
Lettuces, both wild and cultivated, were believed to have magical and healing properties, including the power of arousing love and counteracting the effects of wine. The Romans ate them at their banquets for the latter reason, and in medieval times they were often included in love potions and charms. They were also said to promote child-bearing if eaten in salads by young women, or taken in the form of decoctions made from the juice or seeds.
Name a live-forever vine for
your sweetheart and place it at a corner of your
house, if it grows he loves you, if it dies, you are not loved by him. (another one I am trying to look up.)
If you are able to tie a knot with
a love vine, you are in the thoughts
of your sweetheart. (note...a love vine is a plant called a Dodder...a leafless parasitic plant having dense clusters of small, white, bell shaped flowers on orange-yellow stems that twine about clover or flax.)
If you light a match, put it down and it burns up entirely it means that you are loved.
Light a match and let it
burn as close as possible to your finger, then spit
on the burnt part and hold the match by the head. If it burns up entirely,
without breaking, your beau loves you.
The best month to marry is
found in the following English poem.
Married when the year is new, he'll be loving, kind & true,
When February birds do mate, You wed nor dread your fate.
If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you'll know.
Marry in April when you can, Joy for Maiden & for Man.
Marry in the month of May, and you'll surely rue the day.
Marry when June roses grow, over land and sea you'll go.
Those who in July do wed, must labor for their daily bred.
Whoever wed in August be, many a change is sure to see
Marry in September's shrine, your living will be rich and fine.
If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry.
If you wed in bleak November, only joys will come, remember.
When December snows fall fast, marry and true love will last.
Bend the stalk of a mullein plant
in the direction towards your sweetheart's
house. If it stays down, he does not love you; if it becomes erect again,
you are loved by him.
The is an custom dating back only a few hundred years that says if you honeymoon at Niagara Falls and throws pennies into the Bridal Veil falls...the ones on the American side of the falls...that you will have good luck and good fortune all of your life. Local officials say that piles of pennies have piled up behind the famous falls from luck seekers.
When your nose itches, your beloved is in danger.
If you get a nosebleed it means you are loved.
Even noise has its place in folklore. The breaking of the glass and shouting "Mozol Tov," the breaking of an object in Hindu marriages, shouting and hollering in primitive cultures all serve the same purpose...to scare away the demons who over wedding bent on causing havoc and discord among the participants.
Take four onions and on each
one write the name of one man in whom you are interested. Put them
under your bed and wait. The onion that sprouts
during the night will show which of the four persons named loves you.
Never eat onions on Saturday night or you will not see your lover on Sunday.
Orange blossoms have become associated with weddings because the orange tree is an evergreen and symbolized a couples eternal love for each other.
Because the orange blossom bears fruit and blossoms at the same time the ancient Chinese believed they were not only lucky but also symbolized the purity, chastity and innocence of the bride.
Put a spoonful of pepper
on a cold stove lid, then a spoonful of salt,
and name them for your beau. Now, light a fire under that lid and if the one
you have named loves you the pepper and salt will blaze up and burn.
If you find a pin facing towards you pict it up and you will see your beau that day.
If a pot or pan falls and
lands upside-down on the floor, you will soon see
someone you love.
Eating pickles is a sign of love.
Among the Carpatho-Rusyns
a pregnancy occurring too soon after the wedding was not desirable.
In order to put it off, women used several "magic" tricks. A bride
returning from the wedding ceremony sat down on as many of her fingers
for as many years as she did not want to have children. Alternatively,
she could make the
appropriate number of bundles on her parta, a ribbon-like decoration on the bride's head.
Seeing a redbird on Saturday morning means your sweetheart will visit you soon.
If a male and female both reach
for the same thing, while eating, at the same time,
a romance is brewing.
If you make yourself a rhyme, you will see your love before bedtime.
The throwing of rice comes down from the times of the ancient Hindus and Chinese. It symbolizes the bestowing of fertility on the bridal pair.
Eating rice at a wedding or other grains at the wedding symbolized health, wealth and happiness for the newly married couple.
Among some people such as the Polynesians and Dyaks of Borneo the eating of rice IS the marriage ceremony. After the couple partakes they are lawfully married.
Another reason for the throwing of rice comes from the belief that evil spirits hovered near all weddings. The rice was thrown as food for them to keep them occupied and away from the bridegroom of whom they were extremely jealous.
As soon as you see the first robin of spring, sit down and remove your left stocking. If it contains a hair, your beau will soon call upon you.
Give a rose petal your sweetheart's
name and if you can make it pop then
you are loved by him.
Salty soup means the cook is in love.
Nowadays old shoes are tied to the back of the wedding car to symbolize the couple starting out on a new journey together. This custom comes from Tudor times when guests would throw shoes at the bride and groom believing that they would have great luck if the shoes hit either them or their carriage.
In Anglo-Saxon times, the bride was symbolically struck with a shoe by her husband during the wedding ceremony to establish his authority over her.
Brides used to throw a shoe at their bridesmaids, whomever the shoe hit was considered to be the next one to be married.
if your shoe string comes
untied it shows that your thought's are directed
toward your beau.
if a girl's shoe string comes untied it signifies that your beau is thinking about you.
If a girl's skirt turns up at the bottom it means her lover is in a saloon.
On the first day of may a maiden should go into the garden and search for a snail. It it has a shell she will marry a man who owns his own home ...if it has no shell he will be poor.
Sneeze before breakfast and you will see your sweetheart before Saturday night.
Sneeze before you eat
See your sweetheart before you sleep.
When you are about to sneeze
think of your beloved and, at the same time
touch your upper lip. You will not sneeze if your beloved loves you.
Name a pan of soap bubbles and if they do not all burst before you are done, you are loved; but if they break, you are not loved.
Spit on a piece of burning
wood that falls from the fire and name it your sweetheart,
then replace it on the fire, you love will arrive before the wood is consumed by the flames.
If you find a spider on your neck it means that you have a secret lover.
If you put on your stockings wrong side out, your sweetheart loves you.
In Scotland it was traditional for the bride to 'walk with the sun' which meant going from east to went on the south side of the street and then circling the church three times 'sunwise' for good luck. Since the sun was associated with sexual stimulation and fertility this was felt to assure the couple would have many healthy children.
A swan's feather, sewed into the husband's pillow, was thought to ensure fidelity. Perhaps this custom arose from the fact that swans mate for life. There is also the widespread belief that the 'swan song' of the otherwise mute swan only happens just before it dies.
A tablespoon dropping to the floor is a sign that your lover is coming.
If you love a person, think of them with all your heart and concentration and they will come to you soon.
If you can remove all the seeds from a thistle ball with one breath, your beau loves you.
If a thread gets tangled
while a girl is sewing, it means that her beau is
thinking about her.
A toad crossing the road
in front of you indicates that you will see your
sweetheart that day.
If a toad hops across your path, your beau will come to see you from the same direction.
If you stub your toe, kiss your thumb and face the opposite direction and you will see your sweetheart.
If you stub your toe, walk backwards over the spot where it happened, turn around three time clockwise and kiss your thumb and you will see the face of your true love.
Stub your right toe and you'll soon see your true love.
If a man's big toe is shorter then his second toe he will be henpecked in marriage. If a woman's second toe is larger then she will rule the household.
Bad luck will plague a couple if the bride trips on her wedding day.
If you see a turkey buzzard sailing
through the air, say:
Sail, sail lonesome turkey buzzard,
Sail to the east and sail to the west,
Sail to the one that I love best,
Flap your wings before you fly out of sight
And he will think of me this night.
If a girl spills water while she is drinking, she is in her beau's mind.
If a girl upsets coffee, water or any drink, her sweetheart is thinking of her.
Name a worm with your sweetheart's
name while fishing and then bait your
hook with it. If you catch a fish with that worm, he or she is true to you.
Grecian brides used to offer their veils to the goddess Hera after the marriage to assure themselves an easy birth.
French peasant girls still put their veils away after the wedding to wear again only when they are being buried.
Walking is thought to be the best way of getting to Church as there's more chance of spotting lucky omens. Seeing a rainbow, having the sun shine on the Bride, meeting a black cat walking towards you or meeting a chimney sweep are all lucky signs. Bad omens include seeing a pig, a hare or a lizard running across the road, or spotting an open grave.
Coming home from Church can be equally hazardous. Tradition dictates the new wife must enter her home by the main door and, to avoid bad luck, must never trip or fall - hence the custom that a bride should be carried over the threshold.
When going to the church make certain that the road is monks and nuns for, tradition says, to meet one foretells of barrenness and a life dependent on charity.
If you throw pennies into running water...an ocean...lake...river...stream...at the time of your engagement you will have good luck in your marriage. This comes from the ancient act of giving tribute to Neptune...the god of water...to bless the union.
If your beloved winks at you with their right eye then they love you.
If you throw coins into a wishing well during a full moon you will see the face of your true love reflected in the water below.
Wells, being a source of water, became symbols of fruitfulness. If woman stood by a well and made a wish it was suppose to come true. In the olden times she usually wished for a husband and children and dropped in her coin. If she saw her own reflection, her wish was bound to come true.
Wreaths of corn or wheat decorated the churches of Anglo-Saxons, Romans, and Greek. They were symbols of fertility and were considered to be a blessing upon the marriage.
Cut as many pieces of yarn or string as you have beaus and then tie to one end a piece of paper on which you have places their names. Now put the yarn in a bag with the free end out and pick one piece. This will be the name of your true love.
Cut as many pieces of yarn as you
have beaus and tie to each the name of one of your loves. Now, draw
a circle and place the yarn inside the circle and call the cat. The
last piece remaining in the circle after the cat plays with them will be
your true love. (this works especially well outside, under a full
moon and with a black cat)
Valentine's Day...Feb. 14
On the eve of Valentine's Day a maiden should take five bay leaves and pin them to her pillow...one in each corner...one in the middle. That night she will dream of her future lover or husband.
It was believed that if a woman
saw a robing fly over her head on Valentine's Day she would marry
a sailor... if she saw a sparrow she would marry a poor man but be very
happy ...and if she saw a goldfinch she would marry a millionaire.
On the first of May if a
maiden wishes to see the face of the man she will marry then let her hold
a mirror face down over a clear stream and she will see the face of her
own true love.
The Month of June
Prosperity to the man and happiness
to the women who marries in June is a proverb that was well known
from the time of the ancient Romans. It came from the belief that
the goddess Juno was the wife of Jupiter..kind of the gods. When
marriages took place in the month named for her she bestowed her blessing
of joy upon the happy couple.
Midsummer's Eve...June 19
On Midsummer's Eve a woman should remove her shirt or nightshirt...and, in total silence, wash it...turn it in-side-out...and hang it on the back of a chair. Then she must wait in silence and watch and sometime, during the night, the spirit of her true love will appear and turn the shirt right side out.
On Midsummer's Eve a young
woman must walk backwards into a garden...reach behind her and pick a single
rose. Then she takes it home...places it in a bag and stores
it in a drawer until Christmas Day., On Christmas Day, before going
to church, she must take the rose and place it in her bosom. At church
a man will either ask her for the rose or take it from her. He is
destined to be her husband.
A Halloween game is for all the unmarried young people to fasten an apple apiece on a string and twirl it around before a hot fire. The one whose apple falls off first will be the first to marry.
Give a name to an apple that is
suspended from a string on Halloween Eve,
and if you succeed in biting it, you are loved by the person named.
St. Andrew's Day...Nov. 30
The day before St. Andrew's Day an unmarried woman who desires to "see" the face of her future husband should pray to the saint for guidance then go naked into their bed. That night they will dream of he who is to come.
Unmarried girls should listen for the barking of the first dog on St. Andrew's day for that is the direction from which their true loves will come.
From Russia comes the belief that
a maiden should try to steal a piece of wood from a neighbors woodpile
on St. Andrew's Eve...If she were successful then she would marry
within the year.
Christmas Day...Dec. 25
On Christmas Day if a virgin desire to know if she will wed within the year she should knock on the door of a hen house at midnight. If a rooster cackles she shall, if a hen cackles she shall not.
The wishbone of the Christmas fowl should be hung...prongs upwards...over the front door. The first eligible male to enter the house before 12th night will be your mate.
If a woman desires to know the nature
of man she is dating she should, on Christmas Day turn her back
to the woodpile and withdraw one cord of wood. If the wood is straight
or crooked shall tell her the truth.
lore that that
Bachelor's Buttons could exert a magical effect upon
men in deciding if the one they were wooing was really their true love.
The man had to pick the flower in the early morning when it was still covered
in dew and place it in his pocket. Twenty-four hours later, if the
color was still a bright blue then she was truly his one and only love...but,
if the color had faded...then so also would their love fade and die.