Magpies - A cultural question


Where I'm from (North West UK) if you see a lone Magpie it's considered to be unlucky.
There are various things you're supposed to do, such as salute it, say a rhyme, spit on your palms. It's a pretty weird superstition.


There's also a rhyme, depending on how many you see, which tells of the sort of good fortune seeing more than one can bring.


One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told.


I was wondering if this superstition travelled outside the UK, because I've just done something based on this. I know they're considered thieves elsewhere, but I've always thought of them as bad news birds.

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Evan_Luza
Evan_Luza profile pic Alumni

I'm in Georgia in the US and I am unfamiliar with the phrase, but it is very interesting! Ps your astronaut subs rock!

ImAGoldenGod

I live in Florida, right below Georgia. I've never heard of this either. My husband says a lot of things that I've never heard before as well (he grew up in Florida, I grew up in Maryland).

Southerners say the darndest things.

I'm a fan of the fortune teller rhyme though! Even if someone hasn't heard of this superstition, I think an illustration based on this would be super badass.

lxromero
lxromero profile pic Staff

I dont know about magpies but I do know lonely pies are bad luck and you should eat them.

melmike
melmike profile pic Alumni

Our magpies are larger than yours by the looks of it. And they're one of, if not the most common bird to see, so you can scarcely walk outside without seeing one by itself.

So no superstition, though it is something of a tradition for young kids in spring (swooping season) to wear ice cream buckets on their heads, sometimes with eyes drawn on the back which is supposed to deter them. They can get very aggressive.

Morkki
Morkki profile pic Alumni

They're bad luck omens in Finnish folklore too. I don't remember if a lone magpie was supposed to be any unluckier than a whole flock though.

quick-brown-fox
quick-brown-fox profile pic Alumni
melmike said:

Our magpies are larger than yours by the looks of it. And they're one of, if not the most common bird to see, so you can scarcely walk outside without seeing one by itself.

So no superstition, though it is something of a tradition for young kids in spring (swooping season) to wear ice cream buckets on their heads, sometimes with eyes drawn on the back which is supposed to deter them. They can get very aggressive.

Shit man, that's a giant. I kind of like them, everyone in my family hates them, my mum was especially superstitious. They have this reflective plumage on their hind quarters which is an iridescent bluey green.

quick-brown-fox
quick-brown-fox profile pic Alumni
Morkki said:

They're bad luck omens in Finnish folklore too. I don't remember if a lone magpie was supposed to be any unluckier than a whole flock though.

Do you get Pterodactyl sized ones in Finland Morkki, or regular crow sized ones like us?

melmike
melmike profile pic Alumni

I love these birds. And crows/ravens. Something about their eyes. I actually once did crash my car because a lone magpie was standing in a very odd spot staring me down as I reversed down my driveway. $700 and two replaces side panels later, maybe there is something to this back luck omen after all.

ExplorerTales
ExplorerTales profile pic Alumni

does looking at these images also counts as bad luck...quick tell me wgt should i do..throw salt at it?.. eat pepper.? or look at image 6 -7 times fr gold luck. paranoia.

quick-brown-fox
quick-brown-fox profile pic Alumni
melmike said:

I love these birds. And crows/ravens. Something about their eyes. I actually once did crash my car because a lone magpie was standing in a very odd spot staring me down as I reversed down my driveway. $700 and two replaces side panels later, maybe there is something to this back luck omen after all.

I get a bit like that too, we get a lot of hawks around here and I tend to get distracted watching them. Not been as unlucky. Hmmm

ThatRedBalloon said:

does looking at these images also counts as bad luck...quick tell me wgt should i do..throw salt at it?.. eat pepper.? or look at image 6 -7 times fr gold luck. paranoia.

I think we're good after Mike's post. Anything more than one's okay!

Morkki
Morkki profile pic Alumni

Do you get Pterodactyl sized ones in Finland Morkki, or regular crow sized ones like us?

We got the same European species I think. Our crows are slightly bigger than that and they can get pretty fearless. Ravens would be even bigger but they're much rarer here, I don't think I've ever seen one in the wild.

melmike
melmike profile pic Alumni

Yeah, we call our ravens crows for some reason, but technically they're ravens, and yep, they're HUGE sometimes.

We have one that hangs out in our front yard. We call him Blacky.

WarDrobeInSpareOom

I grew up in Tennessee. The only bad omens I know of are black cats and women wearing pants.

WarDrobeInSpareOom

Although, the cats do look adorable in their little slacks.

taz-pie

wuuuuuuuuut

i thought those were just counting crows lyrics. i didn't know they were a superstition rhyme. TIL.

ThePaperCrane
ThePaperCrane profile pic Alumni

I was wondering this a while back QBF as I had an idea relating to the rhyme. I thought it was universal but guess just european at the most. Love all birds. We have many ravens where I live, echoing there calls over the woods.

ImAGoldenGod
taz-pie said:

wuuuuuuuuut

i thought those were just counting crows lyrics. i didn't know they were a superstition rhyme. TIL.

OMG I totally didn't catch that

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