Tag Archives: southern folklore

Vernacular Religion: Correcting Handedness


“Yes, I was corrected from being left-handed to right-handed when I was a child. It was just something that was expected in the Southern Christian tradition back then. I remember my parents telling me that left-handedness was associated with the devil, and that it was important for me to use my right hand for everything. It wasn’t until I grew up a little bit and we moved out of the South that I realized how ridiculous it was, it was really difficult for me to write for a while, but that’s just how it was with my grandma”


My informant, who is white and from Missouri, was corrected from left-handed to right-handed by her Christian grandmother when learning to write as a child around the year 1970 in Missouri. She did not question this process when she was young, but came to view the practice as ridiculous as she aged and distanced herself from the South. 


My informant’s experience with this religion-based superstitious activity, an example of vernacular religion, suggests several possible folkloric influences. My informant was “corrected” by her Southern grandmother, which suggests influence from older ideas related to left-handedness in the area. At the time, especially in the Southern Christian tradition, the left hand was associated with sin and the right with righteousness. In addition, using the left hand was an indication of moral deviance, and as such, left-handed children of Christians were corrected to their right hand in order to negate any association with the Devil that the left hand may bring. In this way, the practice of correcting functioned as conversion superstition, negating a curse that would have been realized without this specific method of intervention. Also, the superstition’s regional and temporal restrictions are clearly displayed by my informant’s ability to distance herself from the tradition with time and distance.