Monday, February 11, 2008

Swedish Superstition

Anyone who knows me will know I don't pay much attention to superstition. Generally, I ignore all those "silly" notions. Maybe that's why you are so unlucky some of you might think. Maybe. Or some of you might think my deep commitment to following Christ is riddled with superstitions. I certainly hope not, but can see why some might think it possible.

Well, one evening after fika at my friend Jenny's house, I decided to stay a little longer after Annika had to leave. This because Phil was in Israel, so I wasn't bound to having dinner on the table on time and Hunter had well filled his stomach with cheese and bread. During that time, I got to meet Jenny's sister, a chef who enjoys cooking the old Swedish way (whom I'm hoping I can bribe into making some traditional food for us) and Jenny's mother.

In this family, there is a beautiful piano that has been handed down for the last two generations and seems not to suffer the marks of age. I have so admired this piano that, of course, I have begged to get my fingers on the keys and play. Jenny unlocked the lid for me once so I could play a few things (we both sat down in turns to try Pink Panther), including some Swedish folk songs in some music books of hers.

The story behind the piano is wonderful, so I'll have to get permission to tell it.

Anyway, while Jenny's mother was there (her husband was at work as a ferry captain, the journeys of which are usually a 24 hour event), I noticed her hands were about the size of mine with similarly short fingers. Jenny's fingers are longer, looking perfect for piano playing. Since she sat by me around the table I said, "Your hands look about the same size as mine! Let me see." And I held my hand up for her to place against it and compare.

Immediately, she jerked her hand into her waist away from me. This is a very shy woman, so I wasn't sure what was going on.

Being quick to talk and slow to think, I said, "Oh. I have cooties, I guess."

But Jenny spoke up. "It is bad luck."

"I didn't know," I said feeling a little shocked and embarrassed.

"Now you know," her mother said bluntly, having said very little else and saying not much else afterward.

When, later, I asked Jenny about this, especially when it is difficult to hold hands, dance, clap another's hand, etc., she said the bad luck is only in comparing the size of each other's hands. Some believe it can cause bad luck, others believe you will certainly die.


Whew! Who knows how many other superstitions I have broken along the way.

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