Superstition: If Someone Vacuums or Sweeps Under Your Feet, Then You Won’t Have Any Children

Main Piece: 

“If someone vacuums or sweeps under your feet, then you won’t have any children. So for example, if I was sitting on the sofa, and, you know, my mother or someone else was doing the housework and cleaning, and they came by and I lifted my feet like this, I wouldn’t have children.”


My informant heard this as a kid from his parents in Virginia. This was something that he said was meant to inure him to the right ideas about housework:

Collector: “How would you avoid? Like would you go into a another room so that they could sweep there?”

Informant: “I think the idea is ‘someone’s doing housework- you should at least be polite enough to get off the sofa and yield to them to do the work.’ That what they’re doing is more important. I think it’s more of a disciplinary like house regulation type of thing. Don’t be lazy and just lift your feet up.”


I agree with my informant’s assessment of this piece. My informant described the culture and family he grew up in as one that valued work and practical matters and wanted cleaning done right. There was disapproval, he said, for doing practical things the wrong way. This superstition, which I expect is said non-seriously but still has its underlying message obeyed, is emblematic of the values of its miniature culture. This is a superstition born out of a dislike for laziness. There is an inherent morality system here. You will be punished with infertility or bad luck for not acquiescing to the cleaner.