Whistle When Passing a Cemetery

My informant for this story is my friend’s grandfather.

He was a Methodist minister and used to preach at churches across North and South Carolina.  At each church, there was, of course, a cemetery.  He would tell his children, when they were young, to whistle every time they passed the cemetery.  He said that whistling while you passed a cemetery kept the devil away and prevented him from stealing your soul.  This was interesting to me from the first time I heard it, mainly because of the idea on which it centers–that the devil or an evil force resides within a cemetery.  I find this interesting because I have always seen cemeteries a little differently, as peaceful and solemn places in which our loved ones could find eternal peace, though I know many people see cemeteries as a little scary because of the simple fact that there are a number of dead bodies buried in them.

Interestingly enough, since he told me about this concept many years ago, I have heard other people tell similar stories, with slightly different variations.  For example, the most prominent variation suggests holding one’s breath while passing the cemetery rather than whistling.  This is the only difference in the story.  This is fascinating, in my opinion, as it suggests some credence to the superstition and its prevalence.  In other words, it is not simply a strange tale made up by one family or in one local town.  The variations of it suggest that there is some historical significance to it and that many different people have heard about it.