Old wives’ tales are a curious concept.
For me, they conjure up images of a coven of cackling grey-haired toothless hags sharing stories of all the terrible things that will happen if you do certain things.
There are so many superstitions and traditional tall tales out there. They’re often labelled Old Wives’ Tales as they’re rumoured to have been passed down the generations by older women with mostly exaggerated or untrue details.
We’ve all heard them – and many of them are food related ... eating too much chocolate gives you acne, eating carrots improves your vision, eating your crusts makes your hair curly and eating cheese at night gives you nightmares..
Then there’s the more obscure ones – such as smashing a mirror bringing you seven years of bad luck; if a bird poops on your head, it’s a sign of impending good luck and if the direction of the wind changes while you’re pulling a funny face, it’ll stay like that for eternity.
Growing up in an Asian household, me and my sisters often scoffed at some of the bizarre superstitions my mum and her friends spouted.
“Don’t go out with wet hair – you’ll catch a cold” was one regular warning.
However, it wasn’t that unusual a belief as many of my friends said their own mums preached the same message.
There was also the traditional notion of “Nazar” – the “evil eye” transmitted by a jealous or envious person who brings you bad luck and misfortune with their covetous thoughts.
Some of the other myths were much more outlandish – such as stepping over someone will cause them to stop growing and stunt their height.
All I can say to that is I must have been stepped over a LOT as a child.
The modern day equivalent to Old Wives’ Tales are urban legends and many are passed around on school playgrounds putting the fear of God into gullible youngsters.
The more grown-up versions of playground urban legends are those circulated on social media sites which have you questioning: “Is that true or not?” I must confess I recently succumbed to an urban legend I saw sweeping social media which I couldn’t resist trying out.
Apparently, smothering your feet in the ointment Vicks can miraculously cure a cough and clear up a cold. Ordinarily, I would mock at such unorthodox remedies.
However, despite usually having the constitution of an ox and rarely getting ill, the other week I was struck down by a lurgy which had me coughing, sneezing and shivering with my nose running like a tap.
I just about managed to limp on to the weekend and was so ill and depleted of energy, it took all my efforts just to drag myself out of bed.
I was so desperate to get better, that on the Sunday night, I was willing to try anything so thought I’d give the Vicks thing a whirl and gooed up my toes with the pungent stuff before putting on a pair of socks.
And do you know, I had a cough-free night and woke up on Monday morning feeling a million times better.
Some think it is connected to reflexology while others feel it’s just a placebo effect.
Quite honestly, I don’t really care why it works but I’m now a Vicks on feet believer – even if does make you smell a bit whiffy!