Victorian deathmyths

Charles 8 Comments


Here’s a collection of Victorian superstitions around death and funerals. Of course, everyone didn’t believe all of them but, even so, it’s remarkable (perhaps) how few have survived.


If the deceased has lived a good life, flowers would bloom on his grave; but if he has been evil, only weeds would grow.

If several deaths occur in the same family, tie a black ribbon to everything left alive that enters the house, even dogs and chickens. This will protect against deaths spreading further.

Never wear anything new to a funeral, especially shoes.

You should always cover your mouth while yawning so your spirit doesn’t leave you and the devil never enters your body.

It is bad luck to meet a funeral procession head on. If you see one approching, turn around.  If this is unavoidable, hold on to a button until the funeral cortege passes.

Large drops of rain warn that there has just been a death.

Stop the clock in a death room or you will have bad luck.

To lock the door of your home after a funeral procession has left the house is bad luck.

If rain falls on a funeral procession, the deceased will go to heaven.

If you hear a clap of thunder following a burial it indicates that the soul of the departed has reached heaven.

If you hear 3 knocks and no one is there, it usually means someone close to you has died. The superstitious call this the 3 knocks of death. 

If you leave something that belongs to you to the deceased, that means the person will come back to get you.

If a firefly/lightning bug gets into your house someone will soon die.

If you smell roses when none are around someone is going to die.

 If you don’t hold your breath while going by a graveyard you will not be buried.

If you see yourself in a dream, your death will follow.

If you see an owl in the daytime, there will be a death.

If you dream about a birth, someone you know will die.

If it rains in an open grave then someone in the family will die within the year.

If a bird pecks on your window or crashes into one that there has been a death.

If a sparrow lands on a piano, someone in the home will die.

If a picture falls off the wall, there will be a death of someone you know.

If you spill salt, throw a pinch of the spilt salt over your shoulder to prevent death.

Never speak ill of the dead because they will come back to haunt you or you will suffer misfortune.

Two deaths in the family means that a third is sure to follow.

The cry of a curlew or the hoot of an owl foretells a death.

A single snowdrop growing in the garden foretells a death.

Having only red and white flowers together in a vase (especially in hospital) means a death will soon follow.

Dropping an umbrella on the floor or opening one in the house means that there will be a murder in the house.

A diamond-shaped fold in clean linen portends death.

A dog howling at night when someone in the house is sick is a bad omen. It can be reversed by reaching under the bed and turning over a shoe.

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Tracey Warren
10 years ago

hmmmm large drops of rain warning there is a death – yes usually on a burial and Im a bit worried about the Owl one as I have an owl tattoo hey ho I’m off to throw salt at people and buy a new set of umbrellas

Jon Underwood
10 years ago

No wonder we’re f***** up about death

Kathleen Witmer
Kathleen Witmer
5 years ago
Reply to  Jon Underwood

Yeah, really! My sister just passed bot a month ago. Her grave is sinking. Id like to believe is natural due to heavy rain recently and it being loose dirt with her being laid to rest fairly recently and not because another death in the family will soon follow. My brother is very ill.Not to mention Ive got kids and grandkids.thats a terrifying thought. No more superstition reading bot graves and death for me!

10 years ago

Basically it’s all pointing the same way chaps and chappesses… WE’RE GOING TO DIE unless you can get your piano in out of the rain and away from that pesky sparrow, and I knew that my slovenly housekeeping would come in handy, it’s just that its potentially hazardous to reach under my bed – it may not be a shoe that comes to hand….and this news is going to make getting to the crem while trying to hold my breath tricky – some of them have VERY long drives, but wait, in this business we of coure know people who… Read more »

10 years ago

ps – can you take the eye off?

10 years ago

I don’t know whether to report this to some internet moderator!

This is really scary and spooky and it won’t be on the screen when my Grandchildren come round!

2 years ago


2 years ago

Well, if any of this were true, I’d be dead, because ever since I was little, I’ve seen myself in all my dreams. I’ve also seen and heard owls, day and night, and opened an umbrella in the house. Nothing ever happened!