Appalachia Folklore

Beliefs About Love And Marriage

Beliefs about Love and Marriage

  • Marry in white, live a happy life.
  • Marry in red, wish yourself dead.
  • Marry in blue, always be true.
  • Marry in green, you’ll wish you’d never been seen.
  • Marry in yellow, you’ll have a nice looking fellow.
  • Let two girls pull the wishbone and the one that gets the shortest piece put it over the front door. The man that comes in that door first will become her husband.
  • To put two spoons in a cup accidentally is a sign of marriage.
  • To wear a ring on the middle finger and one on the little finger is a sign your sweetheart loves you.
  • When your shoe heel comes off it is a sign that your best friend is going to get married.
  • If a girl burns the cornbread, it means that her sweetheart is angry with her.
  • When a girl’s skirt flies up or her stocking falls down, her lover is thinking of her.
  • If a couple are married when it is raining, they will never be happy.
  • Cold hands, and a warm heart; dirty feet and no sweetheart.


The sayings above were collected in Watauga County, North Carolina as part of a folklore study. A few others I’ve heard:

  • If the clasp on your necklace works itself around to the front of your neck-it means your sweetheart is thinking of you. You should kiss it before moving it back to the right place so he’ll know you’re thinking of him too. (I remember this one from elementary school)
  • The number of white spots on your fingernails = the number of beaus you have. (Granny always told me this one when I sat in her lap and she looked at my hands)
  • To see your future husband look into a well-by leaning over backwards and using a mirror to look over your shoulder. (I’d probably fall in!)
  • Peel an apple in one entire length without breaking the peel-throw the peel over your shoulder and it will land in the shape of the first initial of the man you will marry. (The girls have tried this one over and over-it seems like it always lands in a D.
  • If you let someone sweep under your feet you’ll never be married. (I heard this one my whole life-I think its just another way for someone to tell you-you’re being lazy and ought to be sweeping too!)

If you remember any other love/sweetheart sayings please add them to the list by leaving a comment!


*Source for Beliefs About Love and Marriage: Holding Library Lees McRae College; Identifier lm00141*; Selection from A Study of Folklore in Watauga County, North Carolina.


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  • Reply
    Patty H.
    November 2, 2021 at 10:27 am

    My grandpa always said: “Love goes where its sent, even if its up a hog’s a**, and “There’s an a** for every seat”. The second one would be in relation to a comment on someone who might seem ‘unloveable’/’undesirable’. The first saying would be in reference to what might seem like a foolish love match. My grandad had a saying for everything! The older sayings around us are dead or dying out so we, as a family, try to repeat them a lot to keep them going. These two keep our neighbors laughing!

  • Reply
    Regina Osborne
    January 11, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    If wishes were horses. We’d all take a ride. Courtesy of my beloved granny, Sarah Davis. She had so many.

  • Reply
    Deanna Ramey Ammons
    December 1, 2019 at 12:27 am

    My Mom and Dad were both born and raised in Franklin, NC. They moved to Washington State in 1943 where I was born the next year. If we ever complained about someone marrying someone we did not care for, Dad would always say, “Now Sweetheart, you must remember, love is like lightning, it’s just as apt to hit a hog pen as anything else!”

    • Reply
      chirrl whatley
      October 6, 2021 at 12:03 pm

      Laughed long an hard at that

  • Reply
    February 18, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    I remember there were some adages in the old days about number of children you’d have, but I don’t remember what they were. I wonder if my sisters do?
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    February 13, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Pull out the petals on a daisy – loves me, loves me not — to find out hoe he/she really feels.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    The only one that comes to mind is, “Marry in haste, repent at leisure.”
    I have always heard that if your necklace clasp comes to the front you get a wish – I think it is much nicer to believe your sweetheart is thinking of you though!
    Hmmm, maybe Chitter and Chatter will marry twin boys whose names start with D.!

  • Reply
    Mark Selby
    February 13, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    The way I heard it, the white spots on your finger nails indicates how many lies you’ve told lately.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    I always heard the opposite of this one:
    If a couple are married when it is raining, they will never be happy.
    I heard that’s a guarantee they will be happy.
    I cracked up about the one where the skirt blows up or stocking falling down…hubba hubba!

  • Reply
    February 13, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Sounds like Chatter and Chitter are going to marry twins named Danny and Denny? 😉

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    February 13, 2013 at 11:46 am

    I’ve already posted, but since the earlier one, I’ve looked up some more love lore and want to add some interesting tidbits:
    On Valentine’s Eve, if a girl will pin laurel leaves on her pillow, and she dreams of someone that night, he wants to be her sweetheart. In fact, laurel leaves always bring thoughts of a loved one.
    Put any one of these under your pillow, and you will dream of your sweetheart:
    –a silver spoon
    –a love knot fashioned of wood shavings
    –a small ladder made of sticks
    (your lover will climb the ladder to you!)
    –a bit of wedding cake (borrowed from someone else’s wedding) and passed twice through a ring and placed under your pillow will bring dreams of your true love.
    Count the first nine stars showing on a clear night. The first man the lady sees the next day will be her sweetheart–if she wants him to be!
    On St. Valentine’s Day, peer at the moon; you will see the face of your beloved in the moon.
    Here are two we borrow from our English ancestors that brought them over to the mountains:
    Go out at night into the woods or a forested area. Take hold of the tip of a leaf and recite this verse, and whatever sound you hear, that part of the verse will come true for you. Go slowly; give time between each:
    If I am to marry near,
    Let me hear a bird cry.
    If I am to marry far,
    Let me hear a cow low.
    If I am to single die,
    Let hear a knocking by.
    And then there’s the “silent” supper, the “dumb” supper, or the “backward” supper that gives you a vision of your sweetheart:
    Prepare a full-course meal and serve it in complete silence. It is OK for more than one single lady to do this together, but no talking! Serve the meal “backward,” by courses, beginning with dessert first, then main course, then salad. When the meal is finished–still not talking–remain quiet until the stroke of midnight, and the ghostly form of your beloved will reveal himself to you.
    I hope some of these “Love Lore” charms work for you! And Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    February 13, 2013 at 11:34 am

    I love to read these!

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    February 13, 2013 at 11:18 am

    One of the “quickest”–when daisies are blooming–is to take a daisy flower, pull the petals off one by one as you think about your sweeetheart and say, “he/she loves me, loves me not.” Whichever comes up with the last daisy petal is a sure sign that one’s sweetheart does or doesn’t love the “daisy-petal” puller!

  • Reply
    rick kratzke
    February 13, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Very interesting folklore!

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    February 13, 2013 at 10:25 am

    my mother and her sisters told me this one: before going to bed take a thimble of salt and a thimble of meal — your future husband will bring you a drink of water in your dreams.

    • Reply
      August 19, 2020 at 1:25 am

      A timble of meal and salt and do what put it by your bed im confused? Can u explain this one for me please

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    February 13, 2013 at 10:11 am

    I bet many females have done this. Don’ know about males. Take a flower and pull off petals one at a time saying loves me–loves me not. Whatever the last one is will be how he feels.

  • Reply
    Brian Blake
    February 13, 2013 at 10:06 am

    These traditional sayings are always charming, for the hope for happiness that they express. We heard about plucking the petals off a daisy, saying with each one, “he loves me; he loves me not.” The last petal falls on the beau’s true feeling.

  • Reply
    C. Ron Perry, Sr.
    February 13, 2013 at 10:03 am

    When walking down a sidewalk:
    Step on a crack, break your mother’s back.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Ron-good one-I totally forgot about twisting the apple stem : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 13, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Tipper, I’ve heard some of these. I’ve never paid much attention to things like this because they never made any sense to me.
    I thought when you pulled the wishbone that it was the one who got the biggest half that got the prize.
    I wonder, do men think of this lore as much as women do?

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    February 13, 2013 at 9:14 am

    The number of white spots on the fingernail also had a meaning more appropriate for young boys, who didn’t even want to hear about girlfriends and marriage at that age. Can’t remember whaqt that meaning was, though.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2013 at 9:10 am

    I remember all of your additions to the Watauga County list, but only a few of that list. Once I stood at the kitchen sink with my Great-Aunt Della. She washed while I rinsed and dried. I often recall her words. “If your belly gets wet while washing dishes, you will marry a drunk.” I was spared despite having many a wet belly.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2013 at 8:24 am

    I really enjoyed those sayings and at the present time there isn’t one comes to mind. I am looking forward to reading some more from your readers. An early Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    February 13, 2013 at 8:14 am

    One I remember from childhood is twisting the stem off an apple and using the alphabet. What ever letter it comes off on will be the first letter of the name of your husband or wife.

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    February 13, 2013 at 8:12 am

    If you’re walking with your loved one and something separates you such as lamppost,tree, say “bread and butter” so nothing will separate your love. My grandmother, Ida Johnson Wages, said this when we were walking down the sidewalk in Lawrenceville,Ga.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Happy is the bride the sun shines on!

  • Reply
    February 13, 2013 at 7:27 am

    Marry in black, wish yourself back!!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Ormond Paul
    February 13, 2013 at 7:17 am

    It’s been awhile, but I remember the white spots on the fingernails being babies.

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