Splitting poles

“So one day my aunt and I and were walking to this little fashion jewelry store where they sell really cheap jewelry by the way and as we were walking we came across this pole and I was about to go the opposite way so we started to split the pole. She got so upset she was like don’t you dare split that pole with me. so from that day forward, I learned it was like bad luck to split the pole with someone. and the person that’s younger gets bad luck. ”

Why bad luck and why the younger person?

“well its cause the two of us have a connection and when a pole comes between us you are letting it cut that connection so the younger person who is less wise than the older one gets the bad luck since they have had less time on this earth and just lost the connection to an older and wiser person. So they don’t get bad luck, they have to reestablish that connection and you do that by saying hi”

Context: The informant is a twenty-one-year-old student at USC she is from Tennessee. Once before she had mentioned that it was bad luck to split the pole so I asked her more about it.

Background: She heard this from her aunt and since then she has been afraid to split poles with anyone she is walking with, especially if they are older than her. She is an active participant of this superstition, always careful when she walks and has even had to say hi to strangers because she does not want that bad luck.

Analysis: Like many superstitions, it is better to participate just to stay on the safe side. Ever since she explained this superstition to me I am careful not to split any poles with her or anyone I am walking with. However, I do not go out of my way to remove the “bad luck.” I have also heard a different version where if you split the pole with someone you must neutralize the situation by saying “bread and butter.” I asked the informant if she had heard about this one and she said she had not. This shows that maybe it is a geographical difference since she grew up in the South.