Appalachia children Folklore

Folklore About How Many Children You’ll Have


Folklore that foretold who you would marry or how many children you’d have was very popular with girls when I was young. Three very common ones that come to mind are related to flowers, apples, and wrists.

Daisies are such cheery flowers. As a skinny little girl I believed the flower could foretell my future. Did the boy I had a crush on like me back? All I had to do was grab a daisy and start pulling petals to find the answer. He did love me! Would we ever have children together? The answer to this important question lie within the yellow center. Once I scraped the bajillon little yellow center pieces of flower loose in my hand I threw them into the air and then counted how many were left on my hand to find the exact number of my future children.

Every time we ate an apple that still had its stem we would twist the stem carefully while reciting the alphabet. What ever letter we were on when the stem came off was the first initial of the man we would marry.

Sometimes we’d all stand in a circle, grasping our wrists with our thumb and middle finger touching. We’d move our hands up slightly towards our elbow until our finger and thumb wouldn’t touch any more counting each move. Ever how many times we could completely surround our wrist with our finger and thumb equaled how many children we would have.

Silly folklore I know, but I sure hope some little girl somewhere is still doing it.


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  • Reply
    Leslie Haynie
    September 21, 2018 at 9:34 pm

    Did that and put a dandelion flower under someone’s chin to see if they liked butter.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    September 21, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    I, too, hope that little girls are still doing it.
    God has entrusted the young with the unique and crucial responsibility to without fail propagate the next generation that ensures human existence.

    An older person, like me, is cheered and reassured by seeing the young embrace without hesitation their evolutionary duties–their dreams of a family life with meaning and satisfaction.

    Tipper, you are my daughter’s age, and your twin daughters correspond to my twin grand-daughters. As long as there are daisies, apples and little wrists, I am assured that the human race will endure.

  • Reply
    September 21, 2018 at 11:32 am

    That brings back memories. I did it with the flower and twisting the stem off the apple. As kids that was so much fun. Don’t know if you every heard of the love vine. It was orange. You say who you love over the orange vine and if it grew then your live would come true. I don’t know exactly what the name of it was but i sure do remember it growing. God Bless! Thanks Tipper.

  • Reply
    September 21, 2018 at 9:50 am

    I suppose, being a boy, I missed out on many of the finer things in life. I have tried one of the things you mentioned though. Putting my fingers around my wrist. Never could do that. In fact I’ve heard that guys who can are likely missing a Y chromosome. Now, I wouldn’t state that as fact, I only heard it, but it sounds about right.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    September 21, 2018 at 9:39 am

    Anita remembered the one with the dandelion bloom, but the one I remember used the daisy. You crumble the seed head in your palm and blow on it. The seed left are your no. of children. Often they were many seeds left because they were a little gummy and would stick to you.

  • Reply
    September 21, 2018 at 9:35 am

    We did things like that too, for instance, when we had milk in the morning in at school, we’d take the straw and mash with our fingers from the top of the straw to the bottom, alternating hands as we went saying,” he loves me,” he loves me not.” ”He loves me, he loves me not.” We also had things we did to see whether we were having a boy or a girl. We soon learned the truth of how fallible that was, especially when we really grew up 🙂 and learned. 🙂

  • Reply
    September 21, 2018 at 8:26 am

    We did the one where you hold up the lowly dandelion after it has gone to seed and blow very hard. This was to tell how many children we would have. Children participated in spreading this edible little plant everywhere much like God made it possible for birds to spread seeds. After becoming a boring adult, I usually try to grab them before they spread. Since no pesticide ever on my lawn, I did gather some last year to stir fry. I found them to have that slight bitterness recalled from childhood foraging. Not bad!
    Also many times in our teens we would use the daisy for. “loves me, loves me not.” In this little game there was no way to lose, as we simply pulled another daisy until it foretold our true love’s devotion. I liked the post from Anne Applegarth because I well remember that little chant; ours went, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief. Sadly, Tipper, I never see children play those little games anymore, and I only see them remembered on your blog.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    September 21, 2018 at 8:24 am

    I remember the girls making a paper sectioned off in quarters with names and numbers etc on it and doing a chant using fingers to open it up. My daughter went through a period of doing it and now the grand children were seen doing it recently. I don’t remember any boys obsessed with predicting who they were going to marry.

  • Reply
    September 21, 2018 at 8:23 am

    Peel an apple trying to get as long a peel as possible. Throw the peel up in the air. When it hits the ground (or sink), decipher a letter from the shape it takes. Your true love’s name will start with that letter! Caution: must be able to read cursive since the peels get very fancy!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 21, 2018 at 8:13 am

    Did it work Ann?

    I knew the one about the daisy petals and the apple stem but not the others. I do not know of any folklore about finding out how many children one would have. In your case, it would have been interesting to find out about twins.

    First day of fall tomorrow. We sure could use some rain here. It has been hot and dry for the whole month. I have lettuce, spinach and carrot seed that just won’t even come up.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    September 21, 2018 at 7:58 am

    We did a lot of those jumping rope. As the rope was turned faster and faster we would count until we missed. The last count was how many kids we would have. Four or five was a high count. I sure am glad that never came true. pwew!!

  • Reply
    aw griff
    September 21, 2018 at 7:35 am

    The one I remember most was blowing on a dandelion bloom and ever how many seeds were left was the no. of children you would have. Sometimes there were so many seeds left you would have to live to be 100 yr. old and have a child ever year. Anita.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    September 21, 2018 at 7:29 am

    Yes, we did those. But my favorite was counting my shirt buttons to see who I would marry: Rich man. Poor man. Beggar man. Thief. Doctor. Lawyer. Merchant. Chief. Tinker. Tailor. Cowboy. Sailor. We also did that with twists of apple stems.
    I always tried to come out with Cowboy!

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