After our previous success helping you to spot monsters around the world and make friends with the mythical creatures you might find in your home, we started to worry. We were concerned we might have stirred some sleepless nights, filled with thoughts of what you might encounter in the darkness.
So we were grateful when British soft furnishings company, Unbeatable Blinds, came along with this fun look at some weird and wonderful bedroom superstitions from around the world. From helping you find the safest sleeping position, to making sure you get out on the right side of the bed the next morning, these cards will teach you how to keep your bedroom a secure sanctuary for sleep.
Don’t Leave Indentations in Your Bed
In the days before people reclined in luxury on memory foam, many mattresses were stuffed with scraps of straw. Though they included feathers for added comfort, these proto-mattresses didn’t quite ‘bounce back’ in the way modern mattresses do. Instead, you’d leave a small curled imprint (or giant starfish, depending on how you sleep) across the surface.
The people of Britain seemed to think these indents were irresistible – a siren call for undesirables. Actually one undesirable in particular – the devil.
Superstition suggests that you should smooth out the indent to make sure the devil couldn’t climb in and await your return. Though it’s hard not to feel like maybe this ‘superstition’ was more of a threat – a guaranteed way to scare their children into making the bed.
The Catholic traditions of Italy may go some way to explain the deep dread felt by seeing an innocent hat discarded on a bed.
When dying Catholics are given the last rites by a Catholic priest, the priest will remove their hat out of respect and they would often lay it on the bed. This built an ‘omen by association’ that a hat discarded on a bed brings incredibly bad luck.
Japanese superstition: ‘Never Sleep With Your Head to the North’
This Japanese superstition is closely tied to Buddhist traditions, which have carried it across large parts of the world.
The Buddha is said to have been buried with his head pointing north, which has created a custom for all Buddhists to be buried this way. In turn, this custom has bred the superstition that sleeping with your head to the north will bring bad luck – including the worst of all luck… death!
This tradition is so ingrained in Japanese Buddhist traditions that it has its own name, which literally translates as ‘north pillow’.
We’ve all seen a scene where the spooky silence of a black night is shattered by the screech of an owl. By this point, it’s a common cliche among horror and ghost stories.
But very few people know that this creeping fear of the humble owl (or at least its hoot) stretches back through history to ancient Egypt.
Admittedly, the ancient Egyptians were not the biggest owl fans at all. These birds were frequently featured across religious texts as well as art but were always associated with death and mourning. Even, the ancient Egyptian name for the owl translates as ‘one who laments’, which has a tragic tone all of its own. Pretty bleak, huh?
Rather than being simply spooky, they considered the sound of an owl hooting to be a terrible omen. Rather a case of blaming the messenger, as the hoot was said to be a warning of something awful approaching (bad luck, illness or even death). But, we suppose it’s useless being told to expect a tragedy if you don’t know what it is, or how to avoid it.
This isn’t quite a bedroom-based superstition but it is absolutely grim. This Turkish superstition dictates that you shouldn’t chew gum after sundown, as the gum will turn to human flesh in your mouth. See! Grim.
No one really knows exactly what started this frankly macabre belief, though perhaps that’s because no one wants to take credit for something so unpleasant. Maybe it’s from parents wanting their children to stop chewing gum – it’s certainly convinced us to stow away our Wrigleys at sunset!
We all know Halloween (All Hallows Eve) is the spookiest day of the year, but for most of us, the ghouls go to bed before sunrise on All Saints’ Day (November 1st).
Not so much in Spain though, where tradition states that All Saints’ Day is the one day of the year that the spirits of the departed can roam free. Due to these roaming spirits, it’s said you should keep your bedroom windows firmly shut on this day. If you leave them open, a poor lost soul might sneak in and take up residence.
In the wilderness of colonial America, it was actually more of a smart suggestion to sleep with an axe beneath your bed, rather than superstition. There were so many dangerous animals roaming the wild, that having a tool to protect yourself was a sensible move for survival.
Being a superstition, there was actually a mystical basis for this practice. The axe itself was reported to bring good luck and good health – it was said to ‘cut through’ a fever and help sweeten your dreams. It was even suggested it could help produce male offspring.
Everyone’s been accused of getting out of bed on the wrong side, but have you ever wondered which side is the correct side?
According to the Romans, the right side of the bed was simply the same side you got into bed on. If you got out on a different side to the one you climbed in, you would be cursed to a stretch of bad luck and ill-temper for the day.
That said, they did hold something of a grudge against the left as well. In fact, the word ‘sinister’ is rooted in the Latin for ‘left’, and they say the only way to shake off your bed-based bad luck was to put your right shoe and sock on first.
Our final spooky bedtime superstition comes from South Africa. It is also perhaps the creepiest superstition too, as it came to be after a succession of unexplained deaths occurred.
When people kept dying while sleeping on the floor, a short-legged creature called ‘Tokoloshe’ started getting the blame. Supposedly created by a vengeful witch doctor who sent them out to eat the toes of his enemies as they slept, people were so scared of these terrifying creatures that they wouldn’t sleep on the floor anymore in case they got caught. Some people even started to raise their whole beds on bricks to make sure they couldn’t be reached!