Saturday, July 8, 2017

Making the Bed: Bed and Sleep Folklore

How many of you make the bed first thing in the morning?

It's one of the things that makes me feel like my day is getting off to a good start--getting something done as soon as I get up. 

Making the bed gives me a feeling of peace. Looking into the quiet bedroom and seeing the bed made and ready for the night is just comforting and reassuring.

I try to keep our bedroom tidy and clutter-free, even when the rest of the house is an explosion of stuff coming in and going out to our booths. It would be heaven to have some place other than our home to do it, but we don't and we can't afford the costs involved in that luxury, so it all goes through here. It's a challenge to keep it orderly and not overtaking our living space, so the bedroom is absolutely off-limits for merchandise.

Vintage linens have always drawn me like a moth to the flame, ever since I was a young girl. I loved pretty pillowcases, especially ones with embroidery, and flowered bedspreads and quilts. When we started selling, I found that more and more of these linens made their way into our house, and onto the bed. Now I shop only for vintage sheets, as I appreciate the better quality of these older brands.

Thinking about the bed made me think about old sayings and superstitions connected with beds. One of my mother's favorite sayings was, "You've made your bed, now lie in it." Harsh maybe, but that approach makes a person face up to what they've done or the situation they've created.

I remember reading that the way the head of the bed faces determines what sex children who were conceived in that bed would be. A bed facing north meant sons, facing south meant daughters. My first marriage bed faced north, and we had four sons. When I re-married, my bed also faced north. And I had another son. Hmmm.

A person should always get in and out of bed on the right side, not the left. Which makes it difficult for those who sleep two to a bed--someone has to get out the wrong side! I have the left side, so it looks like the bad luck will follow me. Oh dear.

The foot of the bed should always face the door, some say. I suppose that makes sense since it allows you to see who is coming in. Safety first!

from wikipedia, Oreste Cortazzo (1836-1910)
If a girl starts making a quilt when she is young, she'd better finish it or she'll never marry. That was a motivator for a lot of women, I bet. If there's an unfinished quilt in the house, no one there will ever get married, so some believed. I have a couple quilt tops, but fortunately no one here is single.

Sleeping with a piece of wedding cake under her pillow will allow a single woman to dream of her future husband. And have a sticky mess under her pillow, I'd think.



Leaving a hat on your bed is considered unlucky. Why? I have no idea. But in older days, I can imagine that hats often carried head lice, so it would have made sense to keep them off the bed.

Georg Friedrich Kersting, 1785-1847, from wikipedia
You should never place your mirror in front of your bed! Because, you see, your soul could enter the mirror while sleeping and be stolen by evil spirits that lurk on the other side.

It's bad luck for the foot of your bed to face an external door. Some people call this the "funeral position" as it is easy to carry the body out. I'm relieved that my bed is safe in that respect.

You should never lean a broom against your bed, as there are evil spirits in a broom that could invade your bed. And you should never cut anything on your bed (uh-oh). But putting a knife under the bed during childbirth was believed to cut the pain in half.

After all those warnings, how is a person supposed to sleep? Here's a couple ideas:

For sweet sleep, place rosemary under your pillow. It will ward off evil, and since it is the herb of remembrance it will bring good dreams.

You can make a sleep pillow to aid sleep too, using lavender, rosemary, chamomile and other sweet-smelling herbs and putting them into a small pillow or bag and tucking them into the case of your favorite pillow.





Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

6 comments:

Mac n' Janet said...

Interesting post. We make the bed together as soon as we get out of it.

Brig said...

Some of these I have heard, some are new to me. I use a DoTERRA diffuser with balance oils in my bedroom, such good sleep with it.

Always have made my bed first thing, and keep a neat bedroom. Sun dried Linen bed linens are my favorite.

Jenny said...

My favorite bed story isn't really folklore, more family lore & I do so wish I knew how it got started.

The first time I visited my husband's grandmother in the rice fields of southern AR I remember thinking it so strange how she made the bed. During the day, the bed 'looked' made up like any other bed but in the evening she would go in & get it ready for us to sleep. She take it all apart & remake the bed with the pillows at the foot of the bed. I asked my husband why she did this & he said he didn't know, it was just always that way at Maw's house.

Being the new bride I didn't ask, I just went to bed with my feet at the headboard. That's when I discovered my dilemma! I'm not really tall, 5'4'' but all the women in my husband's family are petite & barely 5 ft. (needless to say I always felt like an amazon). The bed was short so my husband who is 5'11' ended up sleeping corner to corner while I squeezed into what was left. When I could push him over I discovered that my feet kept getting hung under the headboard as I tried to stretch out in my sleep....it was painful!

So for over 20 yrs that's the way it went, every time we visited Maw's house...who I came to love more than my own grandparents actually. Eventually I started complaining to my husband about it & he would tell me to buck up. That's just how it is at Maw's house! Until one day I mustered the courage as I helped Maw make our bed. I asked her if I could sleep with my head at the head of the bed? She looked at me as if I had two heads? Why would I want to do that? She asked! I tried to kindly explain that I was too tall for the bed & I wanted to be able to hang my feet over the bottom. Then she asked me why I'd never said anything before & I really didn't have a good answer.

So, that's we did. She left the bed made right side up. My husband moaned & teased me late into the night that no one had ever slept that before in the history of their family. How could I be so heartless!

We still laugh about it. And we never found out why she always made her beds that way. I wondered how the men ever got any rest! They all were so tall, taller than my husband yet every one slept that way at Maw's house.

Granny Sue said...

What a great story, Jenny! And so funny! I bet she did it because her mother did, and her mother did it because her mother did--and the first one did it for a very good reason, like maybe there was less draft, or her husband wanted to see out the window and the bed was built in or something like that. Sure makes a person wonder though, doesn't it?

Granny Sue said...

I've not heard of the diffuser, Brig, but it sounds nice. I think I am going to make one of those sleep pillows as soon as I get arountoit.

TheresaandJay said...

I make the bed as soon as I get out of it, so I won't get back in it! I lime a clean bedroom, with everything in its place. I cannot sleep in chaos.

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