Some people believe that these darkening clouds symbolize God’s growing anger at our actions.

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Early morning mist

Do you believe that the early morning mist rising from the river indicates the presence of spirits?

What’s Your Lucky Charm?

Are the following true or false?

  1. Friday the 13th is an unlucky day.
  2. Opening an umbrella inside a house brings misfortune.
  3. An itchy palm means you are greedy.
  4. Breaking a mirror guarantees seven years of bad luck.
  5. Walking under a ladder is bad luck.

Superstitions are not based on reason or knowledge and even though many today would hold a light hearted view towards these examples; some cultures regard similar beliefs quite seriously.

What brings you good luck?

a). a rabbit’s foot

b). a four leaf clover

c). a gobbo

d). a horseshoe

e). a penny on the sidewalk

Did you select the gobbo? Highly unlikely, I’d wager, given the era but quite probable if you’d lived in Calabria, southern Italy one hundred years ago. Calabrian society was superstitious at this time and the gobbo, a hunchbacked creature associated with magical powers, was a popular talisman.

Authenticity makes a novel credible and given that The Inheritance is set from 1897 to 1913, including superstitions like the gobbo add realism. The gobbo first appears in chapter one. In the opening scene, Mafalda, an old midwife from Cetraro, is wearing a gobbo charm around her neck. The young peasant woman is having a difficult childbirth and Mafalda entreats the gobbo’s help for a safe delivery.

Glass blue eye bead crafts in The Grand Bazaar in Instabul

Turkish superstition holds that the glass blue eye bead offers protection from the evil eye and various products were available at The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.Turkish superstition holds that the glass blue eye bead offers protection from the evil eye and various products were available at The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

What keeps your home safe?

a). guard dogs

b). surveillance cameras

c). a security system

d). a walled compound

e). lavender shrubs

Lavender is an ancient medicinal herb that has been used by various cultures to treat wounds, headaches and depression. In addition to these healing properties, Calabrians in The Inheritance also believed lavender functioned as a protective shield that safeguarded one from harm.

Caterina is from a single-parent family and Edoardo, her father, plants lavender shrubs around their cottage to keep her safe when he is working for the Marino’s and she is home alone. Edoardo also tucks lavender stalks underneath Caterina’s pillow at night to keep evil spirits away from her while they are both asleep. Lavender reflects prevailing superstitious beliefs as well as illustrates the family dynamics between Edoardo and his daughter.

Do you have a birthmark?

Birthmarks are distinguishing marks present at birth such as moles or Port wine stains and, at the time of The Inheritance, Calabrians believed they foretold character and predicted destiny.

Caterina, the child of peasants who work for the Marino family, is born with reddish spots on her left wrist; an indication, people believed, that she would be an atypical woman who’d challenge social norms. Anna Marino detects a rose shape pattern in the birthmark and, because of her affinity for this flower and presence at Caterina’s birth, is convinced they will have a special relationship. Calabrian society, however, prohibits such relationships and this incident also hints at future class conflicts.

Do dimples make you cheery?

Like many, do you believe that people born with dimples will become attractive and cheery adults? My family believed that entering and exiting a house through the same door would help keep bad luck outside.

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What superstitious beliefs reflect your family dynamics? I’d welcome your comments.

Ceramic kitcheware with glassblue eye bead

Ceramic kitchenware with the glass blue eye bead was popular on the Turkish port city of Bodrum.

Lavender shrub on Hvar Island, Croatia

Lavender is a hardy shrub found on Hvar Island, Croatia.

Umbrella Pines in Rome

Knocking on Umbrella Pines in Rome brings good luck to those who believe gods live inside the wood.