Residence: Beverly Hills, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/24/16
Primary Language: English
Growing up my mom always told me never to put a hat on a bed because it brings bad luck. I am always very conscious if I’m wearing a hat never to place it on a bed, and I really notice it when I’m packing for a trip–I always put the hat far away from the bed. If I’m with friends and they place a hat on a bed I will always be aware of it but won’t say anything because I don’t want to impose, but it does make me nervous. My mother was passed down this superstition from her mother, who has plenty of superstitions from growing up in London.
INFORMANT: My mother, via her mother.
ANALYSIS: Research has provided several examples of cultures who find this superstition particularly strong, especially cowboys, boxers and actors/theatrical workers, three groups who are notorious for retaining superstitions. The origin of the prohibition of this behavior has been explained as “preventing the spread of head lice” as well as possibly originating in the 20s when gangsters hid guns under their hats on beds in hotel rooms, preventing them from being found if they were frisked, yet examples from Jamaican student essays from the 1890s show the superstition being used even back then, so it is likely to have developed far before the 1920s gangster heyday.