By on 2-26-2012 in Articles



“Stop that whistling, no whistling in the house” I was just about to tell my son, then I caught myself. “Why is that,” I thought, “Why do we say that it is bad luck/bad manners to whistle in the house? “ I know when I was growing up that my great-grandmother told me not to, and my grandmother told me not to, and of course, my mother, in turn, said the same thing. “But why?”  I used to ask them about that, but I have never received a proper answer. Come to think about it, I have never received any answer whatsoever. Hmm…

When I hear my son whistling, my spirits lift, because I know that he is in a good mood, and he is not really a bad whistler at all – his “tunes” fill the house, just like when I hear my daughter singing some made up song. So why should I stop him from whistling, when it is his way of expressing his particular happiness this morning? I decided to take a look on the great “Tome of Knowledge, “ (the Internet) to see what it had to say about this whistling thing.

After looking around and changing my search a few times, it surprised me to find that I was not alone in my quest. There are quite a few people out there like me (thousands and thousands actually) that were wondering the same thing. And from what I found, this whistling in the house ban looks like it has a lot of its background all the way from old Russia. Yes, in the old Soviet Union, this is a popular superstition. I am not sure how we got it here in Belize, much less how it turned into a thing of bad manners, but we have it, and here I am trying to pass it on to my son.

Actually, as I looked around, I discovered that many of the superstitions we have in Belize are not at all uniquely Belizean. What happens if your eye has a twitch? What if it is your left? Or your right? What does it mean when your left palm itches? Or your right? What about the bottom of your feet? I have heard these things for years, but societies all over the world have pretty much a meaning to each. Some may have the results reversed, but for the most part, they are all on par with us here in Belize.

What happens when a picture of a person falls from the wall? Can a pregnant woman really pass by a snake without being bitten? Will a child born with “caul” really be spiritually gifted? Can we open that umbrella in the house? Was I really responsible for stunting the growth of my cousin when I walked over her feet when she was little? (Strange, now she is taller than me!) And finally, will that upside-down broom behind the door really make those unwanted or long-staying visitors leave?

What about you? Do you all have any superstitions that I should know about? I want to know, so I can make sure that all my children get to hear about them. Leave your comments!


  1. The globalization takes its tall and sadly many tritadions already are or soon will be forgotten. Here are some memories from my youth in Bulgaria. I do not remember anybody in the family or from the friends to be serious about the old superstitions but it was a bit of fun and feeling of closeness and tradition – something like following the religious calendar without to be believer for the sake of the festivities. My grandma and my mother used to spill a cup of water with a large open gesture, out of the door, in front of the leaving traveller, saying something like ‘lets your road be smooth as water’. Every year for the first school day in September I walked out of home with that ritual. (May be that helped and I became so cleaver! .When a young conscripts join the army (there was a compulsory two-years service that time) they leave their home with a small bouquet of geranium (called ‘zdravetz’ that means healthy flower) pinned in the buttonhole of their coat.I believe such a tritadions are nice bond for the generations and should be preserved in the society (at least as a small rebellion against the uniformity of the nowadays mass culture. In the Eastern Europe we were angry because of the uniformity and lack of choice of consumer goods, just to found our self 20 years later ‘free’ to listen the same songs, watching the same movies, eating the same burgers. Two-three more generations in the same direction and the World will boring place for the travellers. (I’m sincerely hoping to be wrong!).

    • I met a lovely elddrey lady at my local coffee shop. She was buying something sinfully good from their bakery display case. I struck up a conversation with her, teasing that I’d heard that calories don’t count when you eat something with your eyes closed.She liked my story, but added her own one, which originates in the West Indies.The calories drop out of something once you break it open. I told her I really liked her theory, and will share it with some friends. Later that day, I was joking around with a lady at the fabric store and I tried out my theory on her. She agreed, and added another one to my collection.Apparently, in the islands of Trinidiad & Tobago there is a well respected superstition. If someone, say a nosy neighbour, comes to visit and you want them to leave, simply turn a broom upside down inside your house.Elayne Burt, Toronto

  2. As long as I can remember, pelpoe in my corner of the world (the west) have displayed a bazaar travel behaivior; they honk their horns before crossing a cattle guard. There are several versions of this behavior and all involve trolls. In one version, we honk so that the trolls who live under the cattle guard can remove their fingers from the bars on which they hang suspended. In another, we honk so that those same trolls will not be angry with us and loosen nuts and bolts on our undercarriage. In both cases, grown men and woman faithfully toot their horns as they approach. It is amazing to me that a pelpoe who are normally practical as the day is long choose to perpetuate this myth, but the myth is faithfully passed down from one generation to the next. I suppose if nothing else it breaks up long and winding roads. Regardless, my children are third generation honkers and I hope they pass it on to their own kids.