Monday, June 4, 2012
Step on a Crack........
Did you finish the title in your head? Well, here’s one that everyone knew to chant while walking down the sidewalk:
Step on a crack, you’ll break your mother’s back.
This has been recorded in print since at least the late 19th century, often with a few additions:
Step on a line, break your mother’s spine.
Step on a hole, break your mother’s sugar bowl.
Step on a nail, you’ll put your dad in jail.
So the thing to step on here is probably a bowl. Everything else will kill people or, at least, uproot your life considerably. One can survive the loss of a sugar bowl. Health nuts will even say that you’ll benefit from it.
Stepping on cracks has long been subject to superstition. In addition to the danger of breaking your mother’s back, a 1905 book, Superstition and Education, lists several other grim superstitions: that if you step on a crack, you will have bad luck, or that you will not get a surprise at home that you otherwise would. These are all, in any case, some of those superstitions that no one really believes. While the good luck brought from a penny can be debatable, most kids figure out right away that people who step on cracks in the sidewalk don’t come home to dead mothers and don’t get chased by bears!
Here's a Yale journal that was done on the superstition on breaking your mothers back, Read it for an interesting racial side to the old rhyme: