Money in early New England was always a matter of importance, and a rich variety of superstitions about money built up around the signs and symbols that tell you if someone had money, if you would soon get some or if you were never going to have it.
From the collection What they say in New England, a book of signs, sayings, and superstitions, collected by Clifton Johnson, here are some of the signals people could use to understand the ins and outs of money.
Superstitions About Money
– When you see a shooting star, if you can say, “Money before the week’s out,” three times over before it is lost to sight, you will have some money before the week is out.
– If you see a man going about with his hat brim turned up behind, you may know that he has money to let. Others say it is a sign that the man likes cider.
– It is a sign you are going to be rich if you tumble up-stairs.
– If your eyebrows grow together, you either are rich or are going to be. You may be even surer of this coming true if your eyebrows are bushy. You notice the rich men nearly all have bushy eyebrows that grow together.
– When you see a man with one pant leg in his boot and the other out, you may know that he has money to let.
– It is a sign that a person is going to be wealthy if he picks up all the pins he finds. There is logic in this, in that it indicates a saving disposition.
– A scratch on the hand is a sign of money.
– When making pies, if the person engaged in the work, after putting the crust on the plate, trims it all around without changing hands, it is a sure sign she will be wealthy.
– If the palm of your left hand itches, it is a sign that money is coming to you soon. Have a care about scratching it, for that will break the enchantment.
– But if you will — Rub it on three kinds of wood, ‘Twill come to good.
– Carry a dice in your pocketbook, and you will always have money.
– The way in which one’s shoes wear out will indicate one’s habits in spending money.
Wear at the toe,
Spend as you go.
Wear at the heel,
Spend a good deal.
Wear at the ball,
– If it is a girl or unmarried woman who studies her shoes for omens, she may add another couplet.
Wear at the side,
A rich man’s bride.
– If you can find the end of a rainbow, you will be rewarded by also finding a pot of gold at the spot where the rainbow touches the earth.
– Don’t give to the rich. You will surely come to want if you do.
– When you see a white horse, put your little finger against your chin just under your lips, and spit over it. The person who does this will find some money soon.
– A boy out for a walk will sometimes count all the bows he gets from his friends, and make a cross for each one on a piece of paper that he carries for the purpose. Later he buries the paper. This is supposed to insure his finding as many dollars as he received bows.
This story last updated in 2022.