Old wives’ tales are legends of the past, but they still very much exist in the present. Like a bad smell the superstitions linger around black cats and under ladders.
My mum goes bloody crazy for them. When it’s someone’s birthday we’re never allowed to stick a pair of new shoes on the table in fear that it will bring the wearer bad luck. It makes you wonder why we bother wrapping it because nine times out of ten it’s going to be something I can put on my feet. Unless she’s tricking me into a false sense of security, the cheeky little bugger.
But should these commonly unverified claims be defended for their truth or debunked for being complete bullshit? Much like an episode of the X Factor the power is in your hands and it’s time to cast your vote. Are these urban legends true or are they completely bogus?
1. Hair of the dog
This expression suggests that the best way to get over being smashed the night before is to drink more. The tale comes from the misguided notion that you could recover from a dog bite by plucking a hair from the dog and holding it to a wound. Unfortunately, the advice doesn’t work any better for my hangovers than it does for dog bites.
2. Put brandy on your baby’s gums
It may alleviate teething pain because it get’s your baby good and drunk, but it’s toxic to them.
3. Breaking a mirror is seven years bad luck
Whoever started this one needs to fuck right off.
4. Chocolate gives you spots
The real cause of acne is excess oil on the skin and a build up of bacteria. None of these factors are triggered by our food choices, but rather hormonal changes in our bodies. Basically this means we should all go and raid our cupboards in celebration that snickers spots are just a myth.
5. Eating spinach will give you muscles
Damn you Popeye and your meddling ways.
6. Eating carrots will help you see in the dark
I’ve always thought this one was true, but it turns out that although they are a great source of vitamin A they don’t improve your vision. Damn it, I was looking forward to the day I could throw out my night vision goggles.
7. Feed a cold, starve a fever
Surely this is just madness, you’ll just feel weak as shit.
8. Shaving causes hair to grow back thicker
According to the journal Anatomical Record there is no dermatological evidence to support this claim. So stop with the hair people, shave away.
9. Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis
Whether this is true or not people should stop doing it immediately because it’s seriously gross.
10. Watching to much TV will damage your eyesight
Apparently back in the 60s (the decade I wish I was around to see. Sex, drugs and rock and roll must have been bonkers) new colour TVs emitted ridiculously large amounts of radiation, which had damaging health effects. The faulty sets were quickly recalled but the myth still exists over half a century later. We absolutely love hanging onto the past.
11. If you eat before swimming you’ll sink
My parents used to absolutely love dishing this one out. We always had to wait at least half an hour before jumping in the pool on holiday. When actually it’s probably safer to eat before you swim so you have energy to keep yourself afloat. You’d have to eat a shit tonne of burgers for them to make you sink.
12. Foods with mayonnaise spoil faster
Apparently mayo actually has the opposite effect and prevents spoilage because of its acidity levels. I recently also learnt that the condiment doesn’t have to be kept in the fridge all the time. Mind equals blown.
13. Walking under ladders is bad luck
No one will know if there is any truth to this, but why tempt fate?
14. Chewing gum stays in your stomach for seven years
Thank goodness this is bullshit because I’ve definitely done this a few times in my years. Our digestive systems struggle to digest it so they just come out exactly as they went in. I imagine with a slight colour change, gross.
There you have it, old wives’ tales are purely just urban legends. Whether it was grandparents, siblings, strangers or your actual wife that first claimed to you they were true. It’s time to let them know, like my good friend Buddy the Elf once said, “You sit on a throne of lies”.
Having said that, of course if we smash a mirror we’ll instinctively think the world has ended and nothing good will happen for seven years. Some traditions just cannot be kicked, we love keeping them around even if they are utter rubbish, much like Louis Walsh on the X factor.