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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/820

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

sons of three different surnames, all unlike one's own, and begging a little rice to eat.

If one, who is walking along a road, has a sudden attack of colic, he procures three paper bags that have held incense, and burns them on the spot where he was when he began to feel the pain, to pacify the demon of the locality. A demon's day is man's night, and man's night is a demon's day; therefore candles are lighted when offerings are made to demons by daylight.

If a fly falls into the porridge, if a magpie chatters on the roof, or if two chickens fight, it is a sign that a guest is coming.

A cock that crows before midnight foretells a death in the family. Spirit-money must be burned, a hoop must be put in the front door at its top, and the crowing fowl must be given away or sold. No one would knowingly buy a fowl that crowded before midnight, and, if it were sold, no one would dare use the cash received for it.

When a person commits suicide by hanging, the beam from which the body hung is cut out from the roof and burned, or thrown into the river to be carried away by the current. The floor underneath the feet of the hanging corpse is also dug up and replaced by new material. Thus the evil influence which would inhere in the spot is eradicated from the house.

If a pot of money is found, a rice-flour cake is put in the place of each coin taken, and spirit-money is burned as an offering to any spirit that might be irritated by the removal of the treasure.

No one picks up a girdle found in the road, through fear that some one may have been hung by it, and that the spirit may follow and worry the possessor. If a single coin or other article is found, it is picked up with fear; but if a pair or an even number of things be found, they are taken without anxiety, for odd numbers are unlucky, while even numbers are lucky. Three is a particularly unlucky number. Three persons, therefore, never sit together at a table, and no couple marries when there are six years of difference in age, because six is twice three.

It is not considered respectable for an old man to be without a beard, nor for a young man to wear one. A youth w ho puts on an air of wisdom is called a beardless old man. When a man decides to let his beard grow, his sons and sons-in-law make a feast for him, and congratulate him on his longevity. No one who has once grown a beard cuts it off, as such an act would inevitably bring disasters upon his family.

If one sneezes on New-Year's-eve while preparing for bed, he fears misfortune during the next year, unless he goes to three families of different surnames, and begs from each a little cake, shaped like a tortoise, and in common use at the end of the year as an emblem of long life. These cakes must be eaten by the sneezer before midnight.

Sneezing is generally a sign that somebody is thinking of one. A