Folk Beliefs
Signs

Soles must face down

Background

The informant has a lot of different parts of her background which influence her. Her family is Haitian and Comorian (an island off the coast of Africa) and she is still close with family who live in those places and visits often. She grew up for the first 10 years of her life in the U.S., but then spent the rest of her life living in Paris, France until she decided to come to school in the U.S. She likes to say that she’s a hodge-podge of different identities. She learned this superstition from her mother who she says has tons of different superstitions about the world.

Context

The informant first explained this superstition to me and the seven other people we live with after one week of knowing each other. We have a communal area near the front door where we keep our shoes. She told us about this superstition and asked that we make sure the soles of our shoes are never facing upwards on the mat.

Text

So, my mom taught me, uh… so, my mom, who is from Comoros, taught me that in Comoros, um.. she was taught that you can’t have your shoes facing… Uh, the sole of your shoes facing the sky or the ceiling, because when they’re– when you’re walking, generally, you’re walking on the ground and you’re doing it normally. And, uh, but when your shoes are facing up, they’re walking on god. So, they shouldn’t be facing up.

Thoughts

When the informant discussed this superstition, she prefaced it as if it were a silly little thing that her mom always thought. However, the informant still does avoid the behavior that the superstition describes as bad luck and even went so far as to tell the people she lives with to heed the superstition, as well. In this way, it appears that there is another reason she is performing this folk belief other than actually believing it. As she consistently mentions her mother when describing the superstition, I would guess that performing this folk belief, for her, has something to do with the connection to her mother.

 

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