Superstition abound about left-handed people

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 14, 2006

For thousands of years, left-handedness practically equaled a pact with the devil. Many superstitions swirled around the &#8220dark side” – the left side, that is.

The Devil himself, often represented as a lefty, was said to baptize his followers with his left hand. In France, many believed witches greeted Satan &#8220avec le bras gauche,” or with the left hand.

Christianity itself is strongly geared towards the right hand. It is the right hand that gives the blessing; those on the right inherit the kingdom of God, while those on the left are doomed to eternal flames.

And it's pretty much the same situation with Judiasm and Islam. For example, you never shake hands with the left hand in Islam, stemming from the Middle Eastern custom of using the left hand and water instead of toilet paper.

Folklore offers many additions to the myths surrounding left-handedness. Here are just a few:

n If you want to ward off evil, you are supposed to throw salt over your left shoulder (where the bad spirits always lurk, of course).

n Greeks and Romans started the tradition of wearing the wedding band on the third finger of the left hand as a way to fend off that left-sided evil.

n When leaving on a journey, an itchy right foot means a good trip. An itchy left foot? Don't evcn bother to pack those bags, you have a rotten time ahead of you.

n When dressmaking, it is believed to be bad luck to sew the left-hand sleeve in first before the right sleeve.

n It is thought to be bad luck to pass a drink to another person with your left hand or anti-clockwise around a table.

n Passing or pouring wine with the left hand means bad luck, and a left-handed toast is tantamount to a curse on the victim.

n If your right eye twitches, you will see a friend; if it's your left eye, you will see an enemy.

n And, yes, getting out of bed left foot first means you are destined to have a bad day and be bad-tempered, all because you got out of bed &#8220on the wrong side.”

Believe it or not, there are a few superstitions actually in favor of lefties.

n Anyone who digs coal out of the ground from under his or her left foot in the spring will have very good luck.

n If you apply an ointment with the forefinger of the right hand, the sore will not heal. This is because the finger is seen as the &#8220poison finger.”

n The ancient Zunis considered left-handedness a sign of good luck. They believed the left was the older and wiser side.