Superstitions in Ferradiddledumday


One morning in early summer before the daylilies came into full bud, Gillie spilled the salt. That afternoon a bird flew through the cabin. And late that evening her pa saw the new moon over his left shoulder. One of these signs was bad enough, but three in one day surely foretold disaster.


  • Define “superstition.”
  •  How do you think superstitions originated? Can you find evidence to support your idea?
  •  What superstitions are mentioned in Ferradiddledumday?
  •  Many Appalachian superstitions have to do with weather? Why do you think so? Research and list some of the Appalachian weather superstitions.
  •  Many Appalachian superstitions have to do with luck. For instance, some people think seeing the new moon over the left shoulder is bad luck. Others think it’s good luck. Which is it in Ferradiddledumday? Why do you think some people believe one version and others believe the other version? Research and list some of the Appalachian superstitions about good and badluck.
  •  Write a story based on a superstition (or several superstitions).


One place to start your research

Several entries on the “Appalachian Livestyles” blog ( refer to superstitions:




They kept a cow and an old horse, tended a garden, planted a little tobacco for their cash crop, and raised a few pigs and a few sheep.


Long before tractors, farmers in the Appalachian Mountains needed a way to plow their fields and a way to transport their goods to town.  Many, like Gillie’s pa, used horses. Others used either oxen or mules.

  • Research the three main beasts of burden: the ox, the horse, and the mule. What advantages does each have over the other? What disadvantages?
  •  Why might many the early Appalachian farmers (1700s) have used oxen? Why did the early farmers not use mules?
  •  What did Gillie's family plant in their gardens? Why did they plant these?
  • What did they plant to make money?
  • Find references to food in Ferradiddledumday. What did Gillie and her family eat?
  • How might Gillie have cooked her family's food?
  • Research some Appalachian recipes.