Cheré Dastugue Coen
Updated: Jan 13, 2022
Southerners have lots of weird and wacky broom ideas.
I had a friend who freaked out when she spotted me sweeping my living room one night. As I attempted to sweep the dust out the door, she grabbed my hand and instantly informed me that sweeping out dust after dark invited bad luck and should be avoided at all costs.
That’s just one of the many superstitions revolving around brooms, many of which are predominant in the South.
For instance, I’ve heard that if a person sweeps a broom across your feet, you must spit upon the broom or risk either going to jail or having bad luck. Heck — or both! Variations on this theme include being hit with the broom while someone is sweeping; again, you must spit on the broom in question or risk bad fortune.
Sweeping around people or in front of them has also been known to cause that person bad luck. I think the idea here is that you are sweeping away their good energy or sweeping them away.
Other sweeping superstitions include:
Don’t sweep out a house on Fridays.
Don’t sweep out a house on New Year’s Day.
If you sweep under a sick person’s bed, you will get bad luck.
If you sweep under someone's feet, they will never marry.
If you move, don’t bring the old broom with you or it will bring bad luck.
Never step over a broom, even if you have to cross over it to pick it up. Some people place a broom across the door, especially on Halloween, to keep witches from entering the house. This is ridiculous, in my opinion, because witches would already know that stepping over a broom brings back luck.
Here's one from my friend Judy Bastien, a fabulous journalist from South Louisiana:
"There was a man who was courting two sisters. When he would go to visit them, he noticed that when one sister swept the floor, she would put the broom away with the bristles up. The other sister would put it away with the bristles down. The man chose the sister who stored her broom with the bristles up because that kept the broom from wearing out and showed her tendency toward frugality. So this was the one he chose to marry."
In my house, I have many brooms. One rests beside the front door to brush away negative energy that should cross my threshold. Another hangs above my desk in the office where I write. A multi-colored small broom lines my kitchen wall, purchased from the Berea College Visitor's Center and Shoppe in eastern Kentucky, where students create and sell unique crafts handed down through generations of Appalachian families. That broom is a homage to the women who came before me, who toiled in kitchens to nourish and heal others. Of course, there's one by the hearth.
Do you have a special broom or a broom superstition? Let us know.