Spring still has not yet made its full appearance. Yes, we have our days of mild weather but cool, rainy days outnumber those with cheerful sun – and trust us, we do not mind being spared cheerfulness for a few more weeks.
Given that it has been rainy, people are careful to don the appropriate attire consisting of rain jackets, boots, and carrying the essential dreary weather accessory – the umbrella. When I was a child, I remember being scolded by my mother for playing with an umbrella indoors. In fact, to her horror, I was twirling an opened umbrella in my bedroom. It seemed like such a fantastic thing to do – to bring a pretend world of rain inside. My mother quickly snatched the umbrella from my hands, closed it and said it was bad luck to open an umbrella indoors. Since then, I have not opened an umbrella inside. Besides my mother’s warning, and because it does appear silly having an open umbrella indoors, I’ve never gone on to investigate the origin of this superstition, until now.
I found an account in the Oxford Dictionary of Superstitions from 1883 that states “It is unlucky to open an umbrella in the house, especially if it is held over the head, when it becomes a sign of death.” However, I found some indications that this superstition goes back even further to ancient Egypt. Parasols were used by nobility when outside to block the sun’s harsh rays, and so it was believed if one was opened indoors it would be an insult to the god of sun, Ra. If Ra felt you were insulting him it was believed you were then cursed.
A much more practical account is that umbrellas of the Victorian Era were constructed with steel poles and opening one indoors could cause injury or eye loss.
Regardless of the reason, refrain from opening an umbrella indoors because opening one could be a sign of death, an insult to the god Ra, or simply could poke someone’s eye out.