This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Friday, November 14, 2008

Superstitions in Victorian Mourning

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Before I give you a list of superstitions, I want to mention one thing that people did when they were mourning a loved one during the Victorian era. Once tiny type photos became available, they would place a black ribbon over the corner of the deceased person's photo and that is how they carried it.

One thing I discovered that I did not know, was that if they could, they would even have a photographer take a photo of the deceased person before they buried them--especially if no photo existed of them in life. This is especially true of parents mourning their children.

The photo above is an example of a type of photo and black ribbon that was carried by a loved one in mourning. 

Victorian Superstitions (1825 - 1870)
Please note: I am not superstitious and I believe God has gifted us with freedom from these type of strongholds. I know I am free in Christ and I pray that you are. I am only listing them because if we write and read about families who lived in the Victorian era, we need to understand where some of their traditions came from and the motivation behind their behavior and culture.

~Stop the clock in the death room or you will have bad luck.
~To lock the door after a funeral procession has left the house is bad luck.
~Cover all mirrors in the house so the spirit of the deceased will not hide in the mirror. Also, the next reflection seen in the mirror will be the next to die.
~If the deceased has lived a good life, flowers will bloom on his grave, if he has been evil, weeds will grow.

~Do not wear anything new to a funeral, especially shoes.

~A person who transplants a cedar tree will die when the lower limbs of the tree reach the length of his coffin.

~It is bad luck to meet a funeral procession head-on. If you see one approaching, turn around.

~The person who sees thirteen white horses at once, will soon be carried in a hearse.

~If a clock stopped on his own or chimed randomly between the hours of the clock, another death would soon occur.

Please note: Clocks were stopped to determine the actual time of death. When the turmoil was over, everyone could be sure of the exact time of death.


Victorian mourning customs are one of my obsessions! There was also a custom of keeping an album of dead people that you had known. One of these is featured in the Nicole Kidman movie called "The Others".

What did they say it meant if flowering weeds would grow?