Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


1. My mother always told us that bringing snowdrops in the house was unlucky. She had been taught that by her mother. I can’t remember if she ever said why it was unlucky. My grandmother was born in 1901 in High Wycombe, Bucks. My mother was born in 1933 in High Wycombe and left for Australia in 1953. I am therefore assuming that this superstition dates from at least the early 1900s [e-mail, February 2019].

2. I lived in Scotland for many years and my Scottish mother-in-law would never ever bring snowdrops into the house – this was bad luck; needless to say I have never brought snowdrops into the house since [Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, October 2013].

0383. In 1952 I was a young student nurse here at the County Hospital in Hereford. A farmer’s wife gave me a large bunch of snowdrops, but my landlady was horrified and sternly told me not to bring them into her house – it was unlucky; snowdrops would bring death into the house [Hereford, April 2012].

4. I used to work as a staff nure at The Old Priory hospital in Leominster in the 1980s. This had been a Victorian workhouse and in the 80s was a psycho-geriatric unit. I worked with some nursing auxiliaries, mainly women in their 60s who lived in the surrounding villages. They got upset one night when I left a vase of snowdrops in a patient’s room because apparently snowdrops should never be brought indoors: if they are, this indicates a death coming soon [Richards Castle, Herefordshire, March 2012].

5. In Scotland [Argyll] they won’t allow hawthorn indoors. And snowdrops. My mother would let me pick snowdrops, but she always put them in a jar on the windowsill outside; she wouldn’t allow them indoors [Tooting, London, November 1999].

6. My neighbour told me she had a friend who wouldn’t have snowdrops in the house, as they brought bad luck. I had never heard this before and I’m just coming up to my 77th [Oswestry, Shropshire, February 1993].

7. A solitary snowdrop was a sign of death [Rhymney, Gwent, March 1991].

8. I was born in 1943 and lived at Halsted in Essex until the summer of 1959 … Snowdrops – are called Candlemas Bells or Mary’s tapers [Stowmarket, Suffolk, August 1989].

9. Heard in Orkney that snowdrops are unlucky. The saying goes that a woman picked one off a grave and handed it to another who had no luck ever after [Southampton, Hampshire, March 1984].

10. My grandmother would never let us have snowdrops indoors, either picked or grown in pots, as she said ‘they brought illness into the house’ … to this day I do not have snowdrops except in the garden (just in case!) [Wigston Magna, Leicestershire, July 1983].

Images: main, Crowland Abbey, Lincolnshire, January 2016; inset, planted, Bristol Cathedral garden, February 2015.