Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How to Trip a Witch and Scare a Pregnant Woman

Eric Claypoole is an expert on the Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign, or "hexafoos" (witch's foot).

A witch's foot design was painted beneath barn windows to make them appear larger. A witch flying into the barn, superstition holds, would misjudge the size of the window and trip on it, Claypoole explained.
Sandy Gehris Schoener, a retired Ohio librarian who grew up in Temple, said Claypoole's lecture rekindled childhood memories. Her grandmother, Mabel Gehris of Temple, was a fountain of Pennsylvania Dutch superstitions.

"When I was pregnant, I walked under a clothesline and my grandmother screamed at me," Schoener recalled. "When a pregnant woman walked under a clothesline, it was believed the umbilical cord would wrap around the baby's neck." [Link]

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