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Folk Beliefs
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Folk Belief: Spiders

Killing spiders is bad luck.

My informant says that when he finds spiders in the house he takes them and relocates them outside instead of killing them. He learned this folk belief from a nun in grade school. The nun didn’t them why it was bad luck but he rationalized it as if you relocate the spiders you’ll get fewer spiders. He figured that if you smash them they’ll multiply and come after you. He also states them relocating them isn’t necessary; you just have to avoid killing them. The reason he relocates them is because the people he lives with are afraid of spiders. He doesn’t still believe that spiders will come after him but he still relocates them anyway.

I’ve heard this folk belief before but I never associated it with Catholic nuns. The version I’ve heard focused on the fact that spiders kill pests so it is not a good idea to kill them. Maybe this belief is related to a “you should value life in general” dimension to this belief.  The “killing insects” is bad luck folk belief is something I’ve heard before but generally the one I was taught was that its bad luck to kill ladybugs. I understand why killing either would be bad luck, ladybugs and spiders kill pests so their good to have around. In my house whenever someone sees a spider they want it dead. Maybe its because ladybugs are rarer or maybe its because spiders aren’t cute. For some reason spiders aren’t generally given the same amount of reverence other bugs get.

Folk Beliefs

Killing Spiders Brings the Rain

So, if you kill a spider, it will rain the next day. But I don’t think it really works because I’ve killed a lot of spiders, and it haven’t really been raining the next day. I learned it when I was little from my… I think it was my parents, but I’ve known it for…well it feels like forever.

 

Stina is from Sweden and she says that this is a common belief in Swedish culture. She does not, however, find it to be true. She said that she’s killed many spiders and it has never really rained the next day. She said that the one time that it did rain, rain was already in the forecast for the next day and that she just happened to kill a spider the day before.

 

This belief about killing spiders differs from my own. I have always been conscious about not killing spiders for a number of reasons: spiders trap flies I their web and so they are valuable to have around; I also have had a number of experiences where I killed a spider and, that night, I had horrible dreams that I was being attacked by giant spiders. Since those dreams [some years ago] I’ve only killed one spider. I am not particularly arachnophobia, so I have no real issues with spiders. I would never kill a spider unless it was physically harming me.

 

Based on my experience, my version of Stina’s story would read, “If you kill a spider you will have nightmares that night”. 

Folk Beliefs

Killing Spiders

Killing Spiders is bad luck.

My informant first heard this from his girlfriend a few years ago. He described his girlfriend as being “really superstitious,” and seemed to disregard most of her other beliefs. Perhaps his belief in this is related to his arachnophobia.

This folk belief can also be found in The Adventures of HuckleBerry Finn

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of HuckleBerry Finn. p 171

http://books.google.com/books?id=n2FA-nwz7GYC&lpg=PA171&ots=Zpmm96UjrP&dq=tom%20sawyer%20spider%20kill&pg=PA171#v=onepage&q&f=false

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