With Jack o’lanterns flickering in doorways and scarecrows guarding front yards All Hallow’s Eve is upon us. The perfect time of year to focus on superstition. If asked I would not say I consider myself a particularly superstitious person. However, last night while cooking dinner I spilled salt on the counter. Without thinking I took a pinch from the pile and tossed it over my left shoulder. Why do I do that, I wondered? The obvious answer because it is good luck, but why? A curious creature by nature, I sat down at the computer after dinner and went in search of an answer.
The preferred explanation, or the one most given, seems to be steeped in man’s early religious beliefs. Salt, in biblical times was a highly coveted commodity used not only as a medium of exchange like money. In addition, with the invention of the refrigerator far off in the unseen or imagined future, salt was an absolute necessity in the average household for preserving food. Wasting such a valuable possession bordered on the sacrilegious, so if granules of the precious mineral were spilled, the culprit threw a pinch of salt over their left to keep the devil at bay while they swept up the spill.
What about Friday the 13th? Certainly it is considered a day of misfortune and bad luck by many people. A day to lock up your animals and children and hide in the back of the closet until the sun rises on the 14th. So pervasive is the fear of the number 13, in fact, that in approximately 80% of the high rises erected, the thirteenth floor, at least numerically, is not included in the numbering going directly from 12 to 14. Bad luck attributed to the number 13 as well as Fridays finds their core in close association with capital punishment and once again religion. When public hangings or executions were commonplace, the ceremonies were imbued with an almost fair like atmosphere. Families gathered in the streets, vendors hawked goods and foods, and street performers danced and sang in the village square to watch as the condemned man or woman took their final walk up thirteen steps to face their executioner. Traditionally, these events were held on Fridays. Religiously, Judas was the thirteenth guest at the Last Supper, and Eve supposedly tempted Adam with the apple on a Friday, among many other biblical associations with the number.
Black cats are considered bad luck in some societies, while in others harbingers of good things to come. In Japan it is believed that a woman with a black cat under her roof is likely to have many marriage proposals or gentlemen callers, and in Scotland a black cat by the hearth is a sign of prosperity. Western society, however, views them as disciples of the devil and minions of witches and warlocks. In Germany, if a black cat crosses in front of you right to left it is bad luck, but left to right it’s a sign of good things to come.
When I delved into witches and brooms I was quite floored (ah, pardon the pun) to discover that unlike other superstitions, belief in witches and witchcraft, especially with regard to their relationship with their brooms, has rather unusual sexual connotations which I will forgo an in-depth description of in deference of good taste. Brooms were considered “equipment”, if you will, of witches, thus accounting for more women than men finding themselves tied to a stake during the Salem witch trials. Argh.
Open an umbrella indoors and bad luck will “rain” on you once again has several explanations. In ancient civilizations with their roots in desert climates, umbrellas were tools to protect your face from the unrelenting sun. Ra, or lesser sun gods might have been insulted should you open it indoors thus bringing misfortune to those who lived there.
A second theory discussed was umbrellas protect humans against the raging storms of life. If opened inside, the guardians of the house might take umbrage and leave the house leaving those living there unprotected. Again, I thought it was because if you set it on the table you’d likely poke your eye out, but that comes from my grandmother telling me that’s what would happen to me if I did.
My bath water now cold, I delved lastly into walking under ladders and found these facts. Ancient citizens viewed triangles, hence the shape of the pyramids, as holy spaces where gods resided. Those who dared to walk in the sacred space between the legs of a ladder were considered evil and severely punished.
So there’s more information than you likely needed to know on the subject, but I found it interesting This was a nice quiche. First time I ever tried it with broccoli and I found it quite delicious.
Have a safe and fun Halloween! My thoughts go out to those folks in the east dealing with the storm.
Broccoli and Tomato Quiche
1 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 prepared deep-dish 9″ pie shell
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
4 oz. Gruyere cheese
2 Tbsp. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shredded
1 small head fresh broccoli, diced
4 green onions
1 Roma tomato, sliced
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup half and half
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Bake pie crust (yours or purchased) according to package directions, if purchased, for unfilled shell. Place a handfull of beans or a pie weight on top of a piece of parchment paper to prevent shell from rising. Brush with an egg wash to get a lovely golden brown crust. Cool. (Note if crust gets too brown during cooking cover edges with tin foil.
Cook bacon, drain, and crumble. Melt butter in small saucepan. Add onions and saute for 5-6 mins. over med-low heat until mushrooms are cooked. Sprinkle bacon and mushrooms across bottom of pie shell. Mix Gruyere and Parmesan together. Place 1/2 of cheese mixture on top of bacon. Top with broccoli and green onions. Add remaining 1/2 cheese mixture.
Mix together beaten eggs, half and half, and seasonings. Pour over all. Top with sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with paprika.
Bake for 15 mins. at 425 degrees then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue cooking for 45 mins. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 mins. before cutting.