Context: The informant and I were driving in the car when we passed over train tracks and she told me the piece. The piece was collected in its natural performance setting.
Background: The informant is my mother, who is a third generation Irish immigrant. She learned the piece as a child from her parents who would say it when passing over train tracks.
“Lift your legs for good luck!”
Analysis: I grew up hearing this piece from my mom every time we drove over train tracks. Neither one of us knows why it is good luck, but I believe it is an exercise in controlling something tangible to control the intangible. Train tracks can be dangerous places. By lifting our legs, perhaps we are attempting to subvert this danger. Some variants of this practice involve lifting one’s legs in order to prevent them from being chopped off by the train tracks while other variants threaten that if one does not lift their legs, they will die young.
For another variant of this practice visit:
Edelen, John. “Lifting Feet Over Train Tracks.” USC Digital Folklore Archives. University of Southern California, May 13, 2019. http://folklore.usc.edu/?p=47643.