Houses have either a warm and friendly atmosphere or one that is cold and depressing. It has nothing to do with how long the house has stood (new or old); nor whether it's well-heated or not. The atmosphere stems from the 'spirit of the house' whose personality governs whether the house is lucky or unlucky.
GIFTS FOR THE HOUSE: Bread and salt (German).
DOOR: as main point of entry of the house, the door is particularly important and the positioning over the porch of statues and good luck symbols (e.g. horseshoe, with points upwards to stop the luck from running out) keep out bad elements, spiritual or human. It is unlucky to enter the house for the first time by the back door, as this entrance is not protected against evil spirits. Encourage visitors to leave by the same door they came in to avoid taking the owner's luck with them. The opening of a door of its own accord indicates that a visitor is on the way, whilst a slamming door may damage the 'spirit of the house' and should be avoided.
Leave a door open when a child is being born or someone is dying, so that the entry or exit may take place without hindrance. The Romans would leave a servant on duty to stop someone entering left foot first (the forerunner of the modern footman).
COOKING: when any food is mixed it should be stirred clockwise, as all functions of importance should be performed in an east to west direction (old belief in sun-worship). Leave a tray or a cooking utensil in the oven when not in use (old Jewish), for the time may come when the owner has nothing to place in it. Never waste leftover morsels of pastry or dough from making bread or cakes, or the whole baking will be ruined. Loaves marked with a cross protects them from evil; when baking bread, remember -
'She that pricks bread with fork or knife;
will never be a happy maid or wife.'
A loaf that splits open while it is in the oven warns of a death to come in the family; a loaf with a hollow centre presages a death; it is unlucky to turn a loaf upside down after cutting the first slice for this will cause the head of the household to fall ill; if a loaf crumbles in your hand as you are cutting it there is going to be a quarrel before very long; drop a slice of buttered bread butter side up and a visitor will arrive.
EGGS: when you have finished your boiled egg, crush the shell or push the spoon through the bottom to avoid bad luck. This stems from the belief that witches collect up the empty shells and use them to go to sea and work spells against hapless mariners. Also, do not bring eggs into the house after dark as it is bad luck. The giving of Easter eggs and the use of eggs in all sorts of other festivities, both Christian and those held by other religions can be traced back to antiquity, when the Egyptians and Romans, among others, saw its shape as an emblem of the Universe. Painting eggs red at Easter is seen as good luck, as it is the colour of blood and life.
SALT: the Ancient Greeks believed that salt was sacred and a repository of life itself because of its preservative qualities, and consequently used it in their sacrificial cakes and preparations. They also believed it to be a symbol of friendship, and if any was spilled it was an omen of the end of a friendship. Among some peoples it was the custom to pay workers in amounts of salt, hence our modern word salary, from salarium. Later beliefs had it that evil spirits dwelt on the left-hand side of the body and so began the custom of throwing spilt salt over your left shoulder (and into their eyes). Salt is often given to newborn babies for luck. Country folk often carry a little bag of salt on their person to bring them luck in their dealings (Britain, Europe). If spilt salt is carefully picked and thrown into the fire, this will dry up the tears otherwise shed (America).
TEA: to stir the teapot anti-clockwise will stir up a quarrel. If two women pour from the same pot one of them will have a baby within a year. There is a lot of belief in 'reading the tea-leaves' to predict the future.
KNIFE: crossing two knives is bad luck. If you are given a present of a knife, give a coin in return to avoid 'cutting' the friendship.
'Let the superstitious wife
Near the child's heart lay a knife.
Point be up, and haft be down,
While she gossips in the town.
This amongst other mystic charms
Keeps the sleeping child from harms.' (Robert Herrick)
SPOON: if two are found in a tea cup there will be a wedding in the family; if you drop one and it lands with the bowl upwards you are in for a pleasant surprise.
APRON: accidentally put one on inside out = lucky ; if it falls off suddenly for no apparent reason = unlucky (Europe). If a man's wipes his hands on a woman's apron he will soon fall in love with her. This stems from the fact that a woman's perspiration is to be found on her apron.
By contrast, members of the opposite sex should never dry themselves on the same towel as this will invariably lead to a quarrel between them.
WASHING UP: if you break a plate or cup you can expect another breakage before the end of the day unless you deliberately smash some other small item to avoid the bad luck.
'Wash and wipe together
Live in peace together' (America)
An English country superstition says that it is bad luck to throw any water out of the house after nightfall because it has long been regarded as a deterrent to the denizens of the night and by throwing it out you are weakening your protection during the hours of darkness.
'They that wash on Monday, have the whole week to dry.
They that wash on Tuesday, are not so much awry.
They that wash on Wednesday, will get their clothes so clean.
They that wash on Thursday, are not so much to mean.
They that wash on Friday, wash for their need.
But they that wash on Saturdays are dirty folks indeed.'
'They that wash on Monday,
Have all the week to dry.
They that wash on Tuesday,
Are not so much awry.
They that wash on Wednesday,
Are not so much to blame.
They that wash on Thursday,
Wash for shame.
They that wash on Friday,
Wash in need.
They that wash on Saturday,
Oh, they are slow indeed!'
DINING TABLE: when rising from the table take care not to upset your chair, for this is a sign that you have lied at some time during your conversation. Anyone who lies down on a table will die within a year; any engaged girl who sits on a table while talking to her fiancé risks losing him; it is unlucky to change your position at the table after a place has been allocated to you; to place your chair back against the wall or fold your napkin after a meal at a fiend's home will prevent you ever visiting there again (America).
FIREPLACE: a fire that roars up the chimney = an omen of an argument or a storm; sparks clinging to the back of the chimney are a sign of important news in the offing; a sudden fall of soot presages bad weather or a disaster of some kind. Coal (a symbol of fire) is lucky and small pieces were often carried in the pocket. Its use in the tradition of 'first footing' on New Year's Eve is well known.
MIRRORS AND LOOKING-GLASSES: to break one will result in seven years bad luck. Early man, on seeing his image reflected in water, believed it represented his soul and should anything disturb this image then his own life was in danger. Mirrors have always been closely associated with magic. Mirrors are covered over with cloth in the room where someone has died for fear that anyone who sees himself in the glass will similarly die.
STAIRCASE: it is unlucky to pass anyone on the stairs (cross your fingers if you do so). Stairways symbolized the means of ascending to the abode of the gods and it was dangerous to trespass; also, early stairways were very narrow and two people passing each other left themselves open to attack from behind. Stumbling on the staircase is said to be a good omen and may indicate a wedding in the household before long.
UPSTAIRS: do not sing in bath as this will lead to sorrow before evening; any young girl who persistently splashes herself or her clothes when washing will end up with a husband who is a drunk. Get out of bed the right side. The left-hand side is associated with the Devil; but, if you can't avoid it, put your right sock and shoe on first. You will always get the best night's sleep if your bed is positioned in a north-south direction with your head to the south - this will ensure a long life. To be rich, point your head to the east; to travel widely, the west. It is unlucky to put a hat on the bed (America).
HOUSEWORK: china ornaments of animals should never be placed so that they face a door for they will allow the luck to run out of the house. It is unlucky to sweep any dust or waste material directly out of the house, as this will carry the good luck with it. Sweep such waste into the centre of the room, collect it up in a pan and then carry the lot out of doors to avoid any repercussions. A new broom should always be used the first time to sweep something into the house, to symbolize luck. Never buy any new brush in May; as the Romans decreed May to be the month of death:
'If you buy a broom or brush in May
You'll sweep the head of the household away.'
and it was said that to gather broom, which they believed was a magical plant of phallic significance, might well endanger the life of the man who performed the act. The phallic significance is also evident in an English country belief that a young girl who walks over a broomstick will become pregnant before she marries.