Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Meet the (Virtual) Reference Books: A Dictionary of Superstitions

Meet the Reference Books introduces noteworthy encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference materials in Carmichael Library's print and digital collections. Blog posts are contributed by Reference Student Assistants.  The first round of books this semester comes from our Virtual Reference Shelf.  

This post is written by Shannon Skelton, a French major.  Shannon introduces A Dictionary of Superstitions.  

Did you know that in the nineteenth century some people believed that an adulterer could cure warts? Yes, you read that correctly, an adulterer could cure warts. This is just one example of the many interesting entries you can find in A Dictionary of Superstitions, published in 2003 and edited by Iona Opie and Moira Tatem.

Want another one?

To cure whooping-cough, just have a ferret drink some milk and then have the patient drink the rest of it.

This reference book comprises a wide range of folk beliefs, some of which have endured for centuries. The entries recount the significance of colors, animals, and days. Some also tell of rituals which are to be performed at certain times or in certain circumstances to ensure good fortune.  For example, in the 1950s, it was considered bad luck for women to say thank you to someone who picked a dropped object up for them.

If you are ever in need of more information about a superstition, take a look at this book!

-Shannon Skelton

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