Want to buy or sell something? Check the classifieds
  • The Fedora Lounge is supported in part by commission earning affiliate links sitewide. Please support us by using them. You may learn more here.

Hat on the Bed?

SweetieStarr

A-List Customer
Messages
314
Location
CA
Apologies if this was covered elsewhere, but I couldn't find it.

I am wondering, what is the meaning and origin of the no hat on the bed superstition?

Thanks!
 

Andykev

I'll Lock Up
Bartender
Messages
4,118
Location
The Beautiful Diablo Valley
Don't know why...for sure...

I saw it for the first time in the Hitchcock movie "Shadow of a Doubt" were "Uncle Charlie" throws his hat onto the bed after being warned by Henry Travers that it is bad luck.

However, there are some superstition reasons:

"While a bit unclear of its exact origin, it seems the expression comes from a time when people believed that evil spirits lived in the hair. This misguided notion was likely fueled from the static electricity that would discharge in the air when taking a hat off in a warm, dry environment. So goes the superstition, don’t lay your hat where you’re going to lay your head because evil spirits spill out from hats. Of course this doesn’t make much sense. But then again, superstitions seldom do. Another twist on this misguided notion is one of sanitary origins. Keeping the hat off from the bed also meant keeping lice from infesting the hat or the bed."
 

JJWord

Familiar Face
Messages
83
Location
Buffalo, NY
I believe its associated with death, as in putting a hat on a bed is bad luck as if its portending to someone dying in the house.

I remember my grandmother swatting my baseball cap off of my bed after seeing that I had put it there. Later she told me it would have been ok if I put my hat on the bed with the crown down (opening up). I didn't understand it, but I listened.
 

Belegnole

One of the Regulars
Messages
289
Location
Wisconsin
More likely than not these stem from taking proper care of a hat. A bed is a dangerous place for a hat to be placed. As things that are placed on beds seem to get sat upon. The horror stories, lack of luck etc. can be attributed to absurd reasons given to others or children so that they do what is proper because the real reason would not be sufficient. Think of all the odd things told to children to get them to do as told.....boogie man anyone?

Remember how expensive a hat once was when made by hand, and still can be. Oh, I have heard stories like these about placing a hat on a chair as well....between the two I think I may be on to something but who knows.
 

JJWord

Familiar Face
Messages
83
Location
Buffalo, NY
Cursory searching found a few things on the ol' internet.

It wasn't uncommon to be buried with your hat, either laying on your chest or in the case of a closed casket placed at the foot of the coffin. So seeing a hat placed brim down on a resting place, like your bed, was too close of an allegory to death. Some people probably saw it as an omen, and then just called it bad luck.

Isn't there some bad luck about laying a wedding dress on a bed or something as well?
 

suitedcboy

One Too Many
Messages
1,346
Location
Fort Worth Texas or thereabouts
I see a much more practical side to these superstitions. Hat on a bed is bad luck since people roll around in their sleep and the bash could be REALLY bashed by sleeping on it.

Walking under a ladder is bad luck as a ladder usually means someone up there working and handling hazardous things or staining things like paint that can be dropped.

A black cat passing in front of you is bad luck. The rest of it that gets left off completes it this way "for the cat".

I had grandmothers and great aunts all full of old wisdom like putting a bowl of cut up onion slices under the bed to keep me as a young lad from wetting the bed. It worked as I hardly slept smelling that damned onion and lying there wondering just what magic thing that onion was going to do.

All practical explanations.
 

KY Gentleman

One Too Many
Messages
1,881
Location
Kentucky
I read here I believe that the "hat on the bed = bad luck" stemmed from Old West days. When cowboys were seriously ill what few belongings they had would be in close proximity to them. Their hats would sit on the bed with them bringing the belief that a hat on the bed forecasted death.
 

carouselvic

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,952
Location
Kansas
What I am going to tell you has nothing to do with superstition. You are to never to set your hat on anything people sit on, chairs, beds and benches. You are only asking for trouble if you do.
 

irb

Familiar Face
Messages
94
Location
Mesa, Arizona
There are so many superstitions about what's bad luck to do backstage, I think it may simply be that being backstage is bad luck. ;)
 

avedwards

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,425
Location
London and Midlands, UK
Cigarband said:
I read somewhere that it was an old Vaudeville superstition as unlucky as whistling backstage. (I have no idea why whistling backstage was considered unlucky):eek:
This one has a very practical origin. The first people to pull the ropes to raise/lower scenery backstage were sailors who were out of a job and therefore happened to be good at pulling ropes. They communicated by whistling as this would not distract the audience as much as shouting orders. If someone else whistled the sailors may have taken it as a signal and dropped bits of set on people on the stage, therefore actors were told not to whistle backstage and the tradition stuck.

I did not make this up, my drama teacher told me and I think it might just be plausible.
 

johnnycanuck

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,008
Location
Alberta
Stolen form http://www.thelastbestwest.com/index.html

A traditional cowboy would never leave the bunkhouse without his hat - in fact for the old west cowboy he wore his hat every waking moment - except when he was eating, or in certain company. Most people know that putting a cowboy hat on a bed is bad luck - but why do cowboys feel that way? Well first off a cowboy would never wear his hat in bed and he'd only be in bed during the day if he was sick. So by putting your hat on the bed you risk bringing sickness or other bad luck on yourself. \
direct link http://www.thelastbestwest.com/cowboy_hats.htm

Makes sense.

Johnny
 

Temeti

New in Town
Messages
17
Location
Australia
avedwards said:
This one has a very practical origin. The first people to pull the ropes to raise/lower scenery backstage were sailors who were out of a job and therefore happened to be good at pulling ropes. They communicated by whistling as this would not distract the audience as much as shouting orders. If someone else whistled the sailors may have taken it as a signal and dropped bits of set on people on the stage, therefore actors were told not to whistle backstage and the tradition stuck.

I did not make this up, my drama teacher told me and I think it might just be plausible.

I love hearing this stuff. my automatic reaction though is that if your whistling backstage you're being annoying and not doing you job so the stagemanager is going to kill you (i'm a theatre person).
I've also heard the variation that putting a hat on a table is bad luck. I don't know where this one came from but i always thought it was common knowledge cause i grew up with mum always telling me this... it might have just been her way of telling me to pick up my stuff now that i think about it...
 

Lefty

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,639
Location
O-HI-O
I don't know what happened to the newer thread on the subject, but I like this ad too much not to post it.

1941
stetson1941.jpg
 

Forum statistics

Threads
107,934
Messages
3,050,405
Members
53,215
Latest member
coolwhipboy
Top