I am curios
to know if there are any superstitions about sideshows and
circuses. If there are can you tell me what some of them
are and the reason's for them? - Various
There are many
superstitions surrounding the sideshow and circus
industry. Here is a list of some of the most common one's.
You will find that many of the superstitions surrounding
the circus industry were based on more reality than
Whistling under the big top or in the dressing room is
is an old theater bugaboo. It comes from the fact that
many of the early (and still used today) technical
aspects of rigging a theater were adapted from sailing
ships. Many of the stage hands were old sea hands.
Before there were headsets and clear com systems for
communication, whistling was used to cue the lowering
and raising of flats and other scenery. If someone was
whistling backstage, it could be mistaken for a cue
and that could result is embarrassing, if not
injurious, consequences. - Todd Robbins
the circus end of the business whistling in the
dressing room was considered bad luck because you may
not be able to hear your music cues. - Showbrat
bird gets trapped under the canvas someone will die.
is also a theater superstition. If the counter finds
the audience number to be low it can demoralize the
cast and bring on a string of bad performances. If the
number is high it can cause nerves with the same
result. In the full superstition, the audience should
never be seen by a performer until he or she takes the
stage. - Pele
inside the Big Top.
has two basis. The first was based on the tent set up
itself, where for whatever reason if the big top fell
in, it was best to not be under the riggings. In one
such case documented, at least 4 crew were killed. The
second is an even more horrifying rationale. Townies,
who were notorious for wanting to gape at the freaks
and oddities, but not wanting their presence, would
get drunk and find sport in tormenting the circus.
Animal handlers slept armed and in shifts. They were
encouraged to sleep with more than one person per
wagon, tent, etc. The idea was that drunk townies
would go to the big top first, knowing where it was,
and then try to figure things out from there. Not
sleeping in the big top was more an act of safety than
superstition In addition, the more obscure the
"freak", the more they were encouraged to have a "bunk
mate", most especially the women. - Pele
back during the circus parade.
Never Look Back, not only in the circus parade but on
the road from one place to the other as well: In it's
heyday, it is no secret that many who were involved in
circus'/carnival's were not necessarily within the
realm of the law or social morality. The idea is that
if you look back you bring the bad fortune of the past
with you. - Pele
feathers are bad luck.
is actually a very old Romany superstition. Peacocks
were used as a symbol in many of the Middle Eastern
patterns, crests and as a symbol of power, virility
and wealth. As these lords waged war moving more
westerly, towards what is now central Europe, the
Romany (Gypsies) persecuted more and more. The peacock
feather came to be associated with "evil" and thus
became kin to the "evil eye", which was the harbinger
of bad luck. As Romany lifestyle became more Nomadic
and somewhat entertainment based, these superstitions
followed right until this day. - Pele
or statues, elephants must always have their trunks up.
superstition of the elephants being photographed with
their trunks up, has a few different meanings. The
first deals with having good luck. If the photo or
statue has the trunk up it means the good luck won't
run out. - Rustie
direction of the trunk is also used for symbolism. If
the trunk is up it symbolizes Joy & Excitement, while
a downward trunk symbolizes Mourning. In the Showman's
Rest section of Illinois' Woodlawn Cemetery statues of
elephants with a foot raised with a ball underneath
and their trunks pointed downwards surround the area.
This section of the cemetery contains the remains of
many of the 86 passengers who were reportedly killed
in the great circus train wreck of 1918 - Derek
shoes and slippers should never be seen in a trunk tray
or on a dressing table.
a wardrobe trunk once it has been put into place; moving
it means that the performer will be leaving the show.
the tail of an elephant is good luck.
that elephant hair will grow wildly but doesn't grow
fast or fall off. Due to the sensitive
nature of elephant skin (they can feel a fly land on
them) the coating of coarse elephant hair is a form of
protection from irritants. It is so coarse that it can
not be cut with scissors or shaved with a razor. The
Ringling Bros. "Bull Men" (elephant caretakers) used
blow torches to "shave" the animal, which left only
short bits of stubble on the animal for protection and
no pieces intact off the animal (this did not harm the
elephant). The idea that an elephant hair in one piece
off its body being such a rare item (or if you plucked
it off the elephant, it was a sheer miracle that you
survived!) led to the belief that it would bring the
bearer good luck.
on the circus ring facing out.
peanuts in the dressing room.
enter the ring with your right foot first.
Never step in a circus tent with an open umbrella, this
brings bad luck.
Never pick money up in a circus tent which someone has
lost. This brings bad business.
Never leave your circus contract, our
count your money on your bed.
This means that you have a bad year
-Iola from Holland
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