Friday, August 8, 2014

Bad Luck Files - Opening Umbrellas Indoors

Probably one of the most international bad luck omen ever known. According to superstition, bad luck will “rain” on you if you open an umbrella indoors. But where does this idea come from? Well, I’m here for give answers to all my Snoopers.

The origins of the umbrella superstition are not totally agreed upon, but most of the historic researchers say it can be traced back to the early Egyptians. Obviously, we’re talking about ancient populations,  so your current idea of “umbrella” needs to be changed a little bit. In the ancient times, the parasol was the main kind of shade-maker and it was made  in various shapes. In some instances it is depicted as a flagellum, a fan of palm-leaves or coloured feathers fixed on a long handle. Gardiner Wilkinson, in his work on Egypt, has an engraving of an Ethiopian princess travelling through Upper Egypt in a chariot (photo on the right); a kind of umbrella fastened to a stout pole rises in the center, bearing a close affinity to what are now termed chaise umbrellas. According to Wilkinson's account, the umbrella was generally used throughout Egypt, partly as a mark of distinction, but more on account of its useful than its ornamental qualities. In some paintings on a temple wall, a parasol is held over the figure of a god carried in procession. So this particular object had a huge connection with the divine, so its use had to be very …VERY CAREFUL.
Back then, parasols protected noble people from sunrays, so its useful skills against rain were not noticed.  It was also thought that, in particular occasions, it would have ward off evil spirits  who might do them harm. But open one inside, or even in the shadows, would have been an offence to Ra, God of the Sun. So this “crime” was severely punished, if done.

Another Egyptian myth was connected with the opposite of Ra: I’m talking about Nut, the Goddess of Night (above).  In the writings, Nut used to envelope the sky after the sunset, just like an huge umbrella. The man-made umbrellas were fashioned with peacock feathers and papyrus, and represented this goddess. The shadow surrounding the person was considered sacred, and if someone other than the actual owner of the umbrella stepped on this space, it was considered a crime against the Gods. Well, it can be very odd to know that Babylonians had the opposite perception of that space. If you’re lucky to touch your King’s umbrella shadow, you’re receiving a great gift.

Talking about odd stories, another probable reason why of this superstition can be found in 18th century London.  In fact, this was the time when waterproof umbrellas were invented and popularized. There was only one little, tiny problem. It had metal spokes. Maybe not a problem for us, but it was quite an issue for Ye Olde english people. These were awkward to open and very large in size, which most of the time caused injuries and damages to the houses, breaking objects and hurting little kids. This if it was opened indoors. So the consequences were arguments among families and friends. Quite a bad luck sign, isn’t it?

Another variation of this superstition, kinda reminding me of a Murphy’ s Law, can be this: “ If rain is predicted on a given day, take the umbrella with you and it will surely not rain. Leave it at home, and it will be raining cats and dogs”.
It’s been noticed bad luck doesn’t occur has been opened outdoors and then bought inside to dry. Bad luck is more
associated with a black umbrella, for obvious reasons, and also if :
- It was given as a gift
- It has never been used outside in the rain
- If it’s opened on a ship or dropped on the floor.

Really weird stories. But I think very ironic. What do you think about this new “Bad Luck File”. Oh, and I almost forgot... talking about umbrellas, I would like to share with you a cute love story between two of them. Here's the link of the Pixar Short The Blue Umbrella. Hope you liked the article. See you soon !!


  1. Thank you for posting your interesting, well written articles to Blogger's Paradise Gigi

  2. Thank you for letting me post :)
    I will post every article I'm going to write, that's for sure !!!

  3. I like this. I'm no fan of superstitious beliefs but I find it interesting how people believe and follow them through time across all culture.

    Thanks for digging deep into another often looked over topic. Stay curious! :)

    1. This is what I love about doing the snooper. Let you discover something interesting every day. I think it's a fantastic way to lighten up life. It makes me feel great, and I hope that all of you feel like I do when you're reading my articles :)
      Always curious and Never stop Snooping Around


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