“The Ozark women have several outlandish treatments for falling hair, but the details of these are supposed to be kept a secret, as to tell anybody will break the charm. I have been unable to learn anything definite about this business, beyond the fact that one course of treatment takes forty-nine days and requires large amounts of fresh urine, which is carried in bottles and buckets from all over the neighborhood to the house of the woman undergoing the treatment.”
-Vance Randolph OZARK MAGIC AND FOLKLORE
I came across this book Ozark Magic and Folklore when I was looking for tales and folklore about hair. With so many promised treatments and rituals that will benefit your hair, it is sometimes hard to keep up with. The do’s and don’ts of hair stay within culture, family, and individuals. I love reading about the different superstitions of hair and still keep some generational hair superstitions of my own!
I’ve heard of mayonnaise, eggs, and vinegar, but it is safe to say I have never heard “Fresh Urine!” A region of Europe called Lithuania has beliefs that to strengthen your hair you should have the first rains of May drench it. Can you imagine dropping everything you’re doing once the first rains begin! Not only are a variety of cultures precise in the type of treatments they use for their hair but the precision can even boil down to the day they do the treatment to their hair. In Asia some may not wash their hair during the first days of the year, being that it may wash your good luck away. In parts of India washing on Thursday is a definite NO but Thailand bad day for a cut is Wednesday.
Color of Hair
The Battle of blonde and brunette has no quarrel in the African American culture, but it captivated me in my younger years. As I watched shows like Clueless and others I couldn’t help but notice that the blonde-haired women were nowhere near intelligent. Blonde women have always been the “ideal beauty” on the television shows but they were never reliable. When a character was written to be loyal and intelligent the character was usually ginger or brunette. Many studies show they men believe brunettes to be smarter than blondes. I will never forget Jessica Simpson’s buffalo wing comment and then thinking man she is really blonde!
For African American, colors in our hair mean a bit more. Some believe that black women with blonde hair put you in the category as trying to look like the oppressor. Bright color hair, for some, gets you placed in the category as ghetto.
There is this superstition that you should not cut your child’s hair until they are two. In Romania, the godparents do the honor unlike the Chinese custom of the grandmothers being the one. Mongolia makes the first hair cut a family affair. All hands on deck!
I remember when my eldest son was born. He was born with such thick luscious locks and everyone hated it. My grandmother would say it is to thick or that no one was able to do anything with his hair. I remember his first cut and as he cried, I cried too. If I could take it back I would because his hair texture never quite was the same. Even though I had kept the tradition and waited until he was two I still felt like I had ruined his hair!
What are other traditions, and superstitions for cutting hair? In many cultures, people would cut their hair when they are mourning. There are many traditions where widows were to shave their head. Like those in Tonga who cut their hair in times of death. When our beautiful moon is waxing those in England say it is good luck to cut away! If you aren’t worried about your luck the tradition of the Irishman is to cut it during the new moon for stronger hair follicles. Let me not leave out the full moon!
In a forum, I found an African American woman who says her grandmother taught her to cut her hair during the full moon and it would grow longer, and she did it, and it grew just as she was told it would! Who wants to give it a try? Just remember that there are some cultures out there that says cutting it during the full moon would lead to baldness!
Maybe I should have done like the Navajo and not cut my son’s hair at all. They believe cutting it would take away a person power. My husband and I locked my youngest son hair up and skipped the two-year-old traditional cut.
Why should you never cut a child’s hair before the age of 2?…… There are many superstitions! It won’t grow….or it would be soooo nappy! Here are a few more: place cut hair in a bible and your hair will grow faster, but it is not good to let a woman cut a mans hair!
I don’t know about anyone else, but my mom always burned the hairs that were in the comb and brushes. She would always say that if a bird was to ever get a hold of our hair and build a nest out of it, we would wound up crazy. I never questioned this as a child. I still burn my hair to this day! So decades later when my manager told me she purposely takes her hair sheddings and puts them outside for the birds to make nests with them, I freaked!
Fire and hair have a connection in many cultures. Lancashire has those that put their hair in the flames of the fire with an understanding that it will determine how long they would live. It was said when the hair hit the flames and the fire turned bright, your length of life would be very long!
Although Lancashire is a ceremonial county, in Peru, the child’s hair is burned after the ceremonial offering to mother earth.
What other superstitions are hot when it comes to burning hair?!!! Some may not believe birds using your hair for nesting will make you go crazy. Some say your hair used for nesting will get you attacked by the birds. Others say you will gain massive headaches. Then some say you should burn your hair so that no one would use it for voodoo. Like I said in my last article, NEVER LET TOO MANY HANDS IN YOUR HAIR or it will fall out!!!
Well, that was fun and interesting! No matter if you take it seriously, or it is just a fun thing to pass along, it’s a great conversation starter. Superstitions have been here long before us and will stay long after us. When you have a chance comment some generational hair superstitions I haven’t mentioned!