There’s no shortage of legends and lore in the Lone Star State. Texans love to tell stories and often those tales are passed down from generation to generation. From old wives tales to classic cowboy weather warnings, here are 10 Texas superstitions you should heed for good luck and prosperity.
10. Don’t set sail when there’s a circle around the moon
We’ve all heard “red sky at morning, sailor take warning; red sky at night, sailor’s delight,” but Texas Gulf Coast fishermen also look toward the moon to determine if it’s safe to set sail. When there’s a circle around the moon, bad weather is imminent. The circle around the moon is actually a natural phenomenon, formed by ice crystals in the earth’s atmosphere.
Signs it’s a good time to hit the high seas? A silver dollar under a ship’s mast.
9. Ward off rattlesnakes with horse hair
Nothing gives a trail rider more grief than a rattlesnake crawling into a cowpoke’s bedroll. Men and women of the old west took every precaution necessary to dissuade snakes from their camp. One perceived solution was to coil a rope made of horse hair around the camp perimeters. The horse hair was believed to ward off the pesky reptiles for the night.
8. Never point at a grave
If you ever find yourself in East Texas near a graveyard, folks may warn you not to gesture toward the headstones. It’s believed that pointing at a grave will cause your finger to rot and fall off.
In addition, if you find yourself among the dead, turn your pockets inside out so that no ghosts will hitch a ride inside your pant pockets. Another precaution is to carry bread in your pocket as an offering to the spirits.
7. Outwit witches with a brass cowbell
An old legend says that if you cross a witch, she may get revenge by making your milk cows go dry. Superstitious farmers protected their cattle by tying a brass cowbell around their milk cow’s neck.
6. Never start a new business on Friday the 13th
We’re all a little apprehensive on Friday the 13th, but Texans warn not to start a new business venture on that fateful calendar square. If you start a new business on the 13th, your company is destined to fail.
An old wive’s tale also states that if you leave your calendar turned to Friday the 13th, a witch may possess you on the 14th.
5. Want to stop a storm? Stick an ax in the ground
In times of perilous weather, a Texas legend suggests sticking an axe in the ground to curb the impending storm. Lore has it that the act will “split the cloud” and prevent the downpour.
4. Never kill a horned lizard
As Texas superstitions go, if you kill a horned lizard you better not have milk cows. Legend says killing a horned lizard or “horned toad” will cause your milk cows to go dry or produce bloody milk.
3. Beware the Buzzards and Woodpeckers
In Texas lore, there’s a whole list of creatures that carry bad omens. But perhaps the most ominous is the redheaded woodpecker. It’s said that if a redhead woodpecker appears on your roof, a family member will die. But woodpeckers aren’t the only birds that spell trouble. If a buzzard’s shadow crosses your path, you’re destined to have bad luck.
2. See a ghost? Walk around it 9 times and crow like a rooster
An old wive’s tale states that if you see a ghost you can cast the spirit away by walking around the apparition 9 times. If that doesn’t work, try crowing like a rooster. This will cause the ghost to believe it’s daylight. As a side note, you will look pretty ridiculous doing this.
1. Be Cautious During the Time of ‘Canicula’
Canicula is the latin name for the “dog star,” the brightest star in the night sky. The star is part of the Canis Major constellation. The star’s appearance above the sun during the hottest days of the year inspired the term “dog days of summer.”
The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported that many Native Americans believed the time of canicula was brought on by a “serpent-like creature” roaming the earth. The canicula superstition was passed down for several years. Many believed children should be kept inside because they were weaker and more susceptible to disease during canicula season. The solar pattern determined when farmers would plant and harvest crops. The end of canicula is said to bring a rainstorm.