08
Sep
11

Shoes

This morning on the way to work, I saw a shoe by the side of the road. All summer I’ve wanted to write about the ‘shoes on the highway’ phenomenon!

I’ve spent a lot of time on the road this summer and I am amazed at how often I’ve seen shoes on the highway! Where do they come from? How do you lose 1 shoe, especially going 55 miles an hour down the road? Yes, they are mostly single shoes, not pairs and not usually included in a pile of other things as if a whole bag blew off the top of the car… just a single shoe.

Yesterday I had a bit of insight; a friend of mine with a 2 year old boy got home from doing errands to find that he only had one shoe on. He happily reported that he threw the other shoe out of the car window as they were driving home!

Ok, well, that still doesn’t explain the large numbers of adult shoes that I see along the highway. Once, when my children were young, we were taking a trip and spotted a pair of shoes on the road. A little further on were some pants, then a shirt. We had such fun trying to imagine why they were there and what (or who) we’d find next!

It’s interesting to note the part shoes have played in our culture – other than to protect our feet.

The most common shoe legends have to do with brides or weddings. It has always been considered good luck to throw a shoe or shoes after someone going on a journey for good luck. This obviously translates to wanting to wish the bride and groom good luck by throwing shoes after them or tying them to the back of their carriage or car.

The completion of a business deal by giving a shoe dates back to Biblical times, and as daughters were considered property at one time, the passing of property from father to groom was marked by throwing of shoes.

During the late 18th century, in England, the custom of giving miniature shoes, as a sign of friendship, became very popular. Often shoe charms are given as good luck.

It is supposed to be very bad luck to place shoes on a table. Likewise, don’t wear your shoes into the house – you might be bringing the devil in!

I also read that if you leave your shoes in the doorway, with one facing in and one facing out, you’ll confuse the devil, or any evil spirit, so he won’t know which way to go.

On one of my Red Cloak Haunted History Tours we have a house that found many pairs of children’s shoes in the walls! During research we discovered that this was quite common in New England during Puritan times. They were placed there to “kick the devil out”! There are many reports of shoes also being found under eaves, near chimneys and windows – anywhere there might be a crack for evil spirits to enter.

Leather shoes were a deterrent because supposedly they took on some of the wearer’s soul.

Thanks for letting me share some shoe superstitions!

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