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Weird Island: Weird Places, People and Animals in Britain

Shoes on a table are bad luck

Posted in Weird Beliefs > Superstitions & beliefs | Comments

I don't know where this superstition originates, or why it persists, but around the Leeds area at least it seems to be thought unlucky to put shoes on a table.

I've often had a metaphorical cuff round the ear from my wife for doing exactly that, although I've no idea why!

It has been suggested by a reader that the tradition/belief originates in the habits of mining communities - which may explain its lingering presence in the North in particular.

"When I was a small child my father worked for the British Coal Board as an engineer, and I was frequently chastised if I ever put my shoes on the table, when I asked about it my father told me that in mining communities the only time boots or shoes were placed on the table was when the family was informed of the death of a miner. His boots would be placed on the table to show he was dead. After that placing shoes or boots on the table was seen as either tempting fate or in poor taste. Seeing someone's shoes on the table could severely frighten someone if they didn't know that the person was alive and well."

Author:   |  Last updated: 4th November 2013
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catcalledfish: 2012-06-29 09:19:37 reply to this

When I was a small child my father worked for the British Coal Board as an engineer, and I was frequently chastised if I ever put my shoes on the table, when I asked about it my father told me that in mining communities the only time boots or shoes were placed on the table was when the family was informed of the death of a miner. His boots would be placed on the table to show he was dead. After that placing shoes or boots on the table was seen as either tempting fate or in poor taste. Seeing someone's shoes on the table could severely frighten someone if they didn't know that the person was alive and well.

Paul Carpenter: 2012-06-29 10:50:29 reply to this

That's a fascinating suggestion - round these parts (South Leeds) is very much ex-colliery so that would make a great deal of sense. In fact, my wife's uncle actually worked on the mining trains so I can easily see it percolating through the family until I'm getting hit round the head for doing it in all innocence decades later :)




I've literally never heard any explanation before!

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P.S. If you think this article might be a bit on the short side there might be nothing much more to say about it, or the author might still be working on the research.

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