Saturday, June 1, 2019

Whistling Down Bad Omens

Various techniques to finger whistle, 1893.

In many cultures, whistling is thought to bring bad luck.

In the UK one superstition about whistling involves 7 spirits or birds. It is believed when a person hears their call –it means death or at least a great calamity.

In the 19th-century English miners would refuse to enter mines if this spectral whistling was heard.

In many Slavic cultures, including Russia and Romania, it is considered bad luck to whistle indoors.

It is believed if this done, it will bring hardship to the household via the loss of one's money—hence the phrase, “Whistling money away.”

However, it was believed whistling outdoors was okay.

The origin of this Slavic superstition dates back to a belief that whistling was a magical way to call the wind. Sailors used this when all was quiet—so they could continue to their destinations.

So the belief was if whistling indoors brings wind—it will surely blow everything away, including any money the family possesses.

In Korea, it is believed if a person whistles in their home—it will call a snake out—or even worse a ghost. School children are warned not to whistle.

In Lithuania is it is forbidden to “whistle while you work,” for it will summon an evil demon.

Many cultures, including-- Mexicans, Turks, Arabs, Japanese, Native Hawaiians, and Canadians all hold a tradition that states it is unwise to whistle at night.

It is believed evil spirits will then haunt the whistler.

Theater production
with props.
Theater workers believe whistling is unlucky. This superstition also has its roots in sailor beliefs.

Many stage technicians had sailing experience. They were hired because of their knowledge of intricate rope systems.

Stage productions often required these ropes to be manipulated—to assist an actor to fly on stage or to move about props during a production.

There was and is a strong belief that if someone were to whistle, it could cause a worker to miss a cue, which might endanger the actors on stage. For example, a prop might fall on an actor if a cue was early or missed.

Another theater superstition involves someone whistling backstage during a production. If the audience hears this, it is believed it will bring everyone bad luck.

In ancient China, there was a superstition that advised against whistling.

Skilled practitioners of a form of yoga known as “breath yoga”-- that involves whistling—caused the summoning of evil spirits.

It was also said they could use this yoga to predict weather patterns.

One summer, I encountered a group of teen boys fishing at a small pond in southern Colorado. Without thought, I began to hum and then whistle.

One of the teens that I did not know approached me. He was noticeably mad and punched me on the arm.

This group believed that whistling would prevent the fish from biting.

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