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holding collar for funeral - Superstition?

(35 Posts)
Goose Thu 07-Mar-13 21:48:41

There was a thread here on Superstitions a couple of years ago but what I'm curious about wasn't on it, so I'm wondering if any GN's can help kill my curiosity about something I remember as a child. I was brought up in what's now South London, my mum 'n' dad were Cockneys. I remember as a child in the 50's that when a funeral procession went by everyone would stand still and look down at their feet, and us children would immediately grab hold of the edge of our collars. I recently spoke to some friends who lived in the same area at the same time as me and they don't remember doing this.
Is it just my vivid imagination, or was this common practice then? Do any GN's remember doing this?

tanith Thu 07-Mar-13 22:01:37

I remember holding my collar when we saw an ambulance not a funeral. I lived in North London though..

j08 Thu 07-Mar-13 22:08:20

I remember it. We said "touch collar, never swaller" and we did n' t have to swallow until the funeral car had gone by. hmm grin

annodomini Thu 07-Mar-13 22:08:50

There was a rhyme we chanted when we saw an ambulance:
Touch your collar
Be a scholar
Never be a patient

Our family had a game we played in the car. As soon as we saw an ambulance we had to cross our fingers until we saw a dog - there was much competition be the first to see a dog.

nanapug Thu 07-Mar-13 22:09:05

I have just googled it and there is quite a bit about it x

Elegran Thu 07-Mar-13 22:12:04

Touch collar,never swaller
Any kind of fever.
Nor you nor me,
Nor any of the family.
Touch collar, touch nose.
Never go in one of those.

Goose Thu 07-Mar-13 22:21:26

Thank you all - as usual GN's have come up trumpsgrin. It was definately only funerals we did it for where I lived and I don't remember any little rhymes that went with it (but when the procession had gone by, we kids could resume noting car number plate numbers - anyone else do car number spotting?)

j08 Thu 07-Mar-13 22:27:46

Blimey! We never got that far Elegran! grin

This is taking me back. I'm on my way home from school again. smile

Hunt Thu 07-Mar-13 22:48:53

When we saw a funeral it was ''hold your collar till you see a dog'' which was not too difficult as there were lots of dogs just roaming about.

london Thu 07-Mar-13 22:52:54

touch your collar touch your toes never go in one of those .thats gateshead saying confused

Goose Thu 07-Mar-13 23:40:35

nanapug thank you. I've googled and there's a fair bit on there - but still, a lot of other real memories coming out here toogrin

NfkDumpling Fri 08-Mar-13 07:09:34

Funerals were touch your collar 'til you see a four legged animal. Touch your button if it was a ambulance. That's in rural Norfolk.

vampirequeen Fri 08-Mar-13 07:26:54

We stood still, looked down and touched our collar until the funeral cars passed.

We also kept our curtains closed if there was a funeral leaving from our street as a sign of respect.

Marelli Fri 08-Mar-13 10:30:34

In Notts, where I lived as a child, it was 'touch collar when you see an ambulance'.

Mamie Fri 08-Mar-13 10:43:18

For us it was hold your collar until you see a dog. hmm

feetlebaum Fri 08-Mar-13 11:07:54

Bizarre! How did it come about, I wonder? WHat was the magic in collar- touching?

In my part of N London, the sight of an ambulance prompted the 'never go in one of those' rhyme, but what you touched first I can't remember - 'collar' doesn't ring any bell... 'Touch your knees, touch your toes' sounds OK.

Funerals just prompted a raising of the school cap, I think. Passing the Cenotaph on a bus we were taught to raise our caps - oh, and at the end of a train journey we raised them to the driver and fireman of the engine!

helmacd Fri 08-Mar-13 14:06:21

Going off at a tangent, it was only just this week that I heard of the superstition that you should never give anyone ( especially if ill) flowers that are red and white, because they are associated with death. It's quite possible that I have breached this over the past 60 odd years - but as far as I know, they didn't pop off. Have others heard this one ?

Orca Fri 08-Mar-13 14:55:13

In my part of the world you never give a bunch of flowers that's red and white flowers only. The superstition is that it signals a death in the family.

Bez Fri 08-Mar-13 14:55:43

My mother always said never to put red and white flowers together and also she had heard of them not being allowed in hospital - something to do with the colours being like bandages and blood.

granjura Fri 08-Mar-13 15:36:26

When I was a child growing up in a village in the Swiss mountains, funerals were a bit like cockney ones, with a black horse and wooden hearse. The body was picked up from their home, and the family and other mourners following behind all the way to the cemetary. I can still hear the drum being played at the front of the cortège. As kids we had to stand still by the roadside and bow our heads until the last mourner had passed. Nothing about touching the collar though.

Funny our superstitions are often local, and do not mean anything elsewhere. Our cleaning lady, who was a Geordie, nearly had a heart attack when she saw that I had a vase full of fresh white and purple lilac indoors - she said someone was going to die and I had to take the flowers out - nobody died, fortunately, well not close to us or her smile

Nelliemoser Fri 08-Mar-13 16:00:21

Yes touch your collar till you see a dog, but I think it was ambulances not funerals but given the nature of these things there are subtle variations all over the country.

granjura Fri 08-Mar-13 16:59:16

I wonder to some extent this goes back to different immigration to different parts of UK (like Danelaw and Wessex areas, etc), like language.

dorsetpennt Sat 09-Mar-13 14:11:13

Bez when I was a first year student nurse I arranged a patient's red and white flowers [that was when you could bring flowers into a ward - they did cheer up the place] into a vase and put on his beside locker. I never saw ward sister move so fast as she whisked them off into the sluice room. Later she told me that red and white flowers together on a ward would mean a death on the ward.

Goose Sat 09-Mar-13 16:26:19

I don't remember there being anything about red & white flowers being together being bad luck, but children were forbidden to pick dandelions because it was believed if we did, we'd wee ourselves

Galen Sat 09-Mar-13 16:42:36

I believe in France they're called 'piss en lit' the sap does contain a diuretic!
I also remember that superstition about red and white flowers.