Has anyone heard the superstition that if you put your handbag/purse on the floor, your money will “go away”?
When I was first told it, I thought it was on par with knocking on wood, (fairly common, even if I don’t know the origin,) and not walking under ladders (common sense,) but then I mentioned it to a classmate who asked me if it was an Orthodox thing. Yup, all my weird foibles and indecipherable comments must be Orthodox things, obviously. Clearly, financial repercussions for putting one’s purse on the floor was not a run of the mill superstition.
Personally, I find the random little superstitions embedded into standard American culture or fragments thereof to be infinitely amusing. They make me feel better about not stepping over people and only ever placing cups right side up for most of my life. Every time I come across a new little irrationality, I like to find out who will look at me like I’m an alien if I reference it around them and who will know exactly what I’m talking about. Chalk it up to learning the role.
So far, the people I have met who heard the purse-on-the-floor superstition from a parent or elderly relative are: Southern Baptist, Syrian (Sephardic) Jewish, and Colombian Catholic.
My first step to puzzling this one out was to contact my Portland friend, who will heretofore be known as Miss Priss (yes, she approved this nickname,) and who is my go-to for questions on Southern Baptism due to a plethora of Southern relatives and a flair for explaining things well. All credit for putting this puzzle together goes to her. After some thought, it seems that all three locations have heavy West African cultural influences. I will assume that if you put your handbag on floor in most West African locales, there is a good chance that your money will “go away.” mystery solved. Since I’m not about to conduct an in-depth study as to where else in the world there are heavy West African influences, I will simply shelve this knowledge until someone gasps when I put my bag down.
I’m pretty sure that other people have come across random and humorous superstitions, too. I find it gratifying that most are just as silly as the ones I grew up with, just different. If you’ve encountered any interesting ones, or grew up with any uncommon ones, please share!