Forgetfulness Superstition – Irish Tradition

Informant: Sheila Hurley (married name is now Weiss), 79, is my grandmother who was born and raised in Wales by Irish parents. She grew up extremely Catholic: going to church every Sunday and schools directed by the Nuns of her local parish. She was influenced by the Irish heritage and customs of her parents and relatives that lived in her small town. She lived in Wales until she was 18 years old and then moved to New York to pursue a career in modeling. She now lives in Santa Monica, California where she raised her two daughters and helped raise her 3 grandchildren.

Sheila said, “It is a belief that I live by that if you are forgetful and leave something in the house and you have already left, when you walk back into the house to retrieve the item, you must sit down and count to 10 before you leave. If you don’t do this, then the rest of the day will be bad.”

My grandma told me that the origin of this belief came from her mother who used to do the same thing. Her mother used to do that ritual and then passed the tradition on, saying that it was an important thing to do because it was something that her family always did. She also stated that it came from her “Irish Roots.”

My analysis of this superstition is to think that this partially came from obsessive-compulsive behavior. This seems like something that is just a ritual in which someone thought something bad would happen to them if they didn’t stop and count. However, this could also be attribute to the idea that if one forgot something in the house, than they are moving too fast and being unaware. Sitting down and counting to 10 could be a form of slowing down the day; a form of meditation. The idea that bad things will happen to you, could be directly correlated to the fact that you are being unaware and forgetful, increasing the opportunity to do the same in the future.