Stopping Clocks And Covering Mirrors When A Person Dies ~ Like In the Movie Fried Green Tomatoes
"A Lady Always Knows When To Leave" Clip From Fried Green Tomatoes, 1991
Why This Is Done Had Me Curious ~
One of my favorite movies of all time, Fried Green Tomatoes, is a story based on a book By Fannie Flagg called "Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe". In the story, two best friends go through life and have a wealth of shared experiences. There was one time when they opened up a small cafe which soon became famous for its delicious fried green tomatoes, and for its barbeque. Said to be the best barbecue in the south, it was frequented by all sorts of people from all walks of life.
In this movie from 1991, a woman named Ruth passes away, sadly, from cancer. I swear as many times as I've seen this movie, which is quite a few times, this one part always makes me cry. Every time.
What interested me about this scene in the movie is what happens right after Ruth passes away, while her best friend is telling a story about a lake that is now over in Georgia somewhere. There is another lady, a character in the movie named Sipsey, who covers up the mirror in the room where Ruth died, and then she stops the clock. Throughout the entire movie, Sipsey is a very superstitious person and it shows in her actions when this character Ruth passes away.
I always wondered why these things were done, and I have learned a lot about superstitions and folklore and the beliefs people have that causes them to do these things when a person passes from this life to the next (if that's what you believe).
Cover The Mirror And Stop The Clock ~
The Origins And Superstitions Behind Covering Mirrors And Stopping Clocks When A Person Dies ~
Some of the superstitions behind covering mirrors and stopping clocks when people die were thought to have origins in Great Britain and in Germany. Others have said they are based on an old Jewish tradition, and I have even read that these superstitions originated with African Americans and with Creole people. Regardless of where they originated, there are certain superstitions that cause people to do these things when a person dies.
Superstitions behind covering mirrors with a cloth when a person dies ~
- So mourners do not have to see how they look when they are in mourning and can then feel free to mourn peacefully.
- To allow the spirit of the newly deceased person to cross over into their new life successfully and to keep them from getting trapped in this life. It was believed if the soul of the newly departed saw their reflection in the mirror, they would become trapped and not be able to leave to begin their afterlife. This might cause the spirit to stay and haunt all who remain in this world.
- Another superstition said that the next person who sees themselves in the mirror will be the next person to die. Mirrors were covered so no one would see their reflection.
- Superstition claims that reflections in the mirror are projections of the persons soul.
Generally, mirrors remained covered until the funeral. After the funeral they could be uncovered.
Superstitions behind stopping clocks when a person dies ~
- One superstition is to stop the clock so that mourners can stay and mourn for as long as they like without worry about how much time has passed.
- Stopping clocks was a way to allow the soul of the newly deceased to move on into the next life without any worry about time.
- Stopping clocks was done based on the belief that if the clock was not stopped, there would be bad luck upon all those who remain in the home. This belief is said to have originated in Germany and Great Britain and it was said that when a person dies, time stands still for that person. A new period of existence then begins without time.
- If the time is allowed to continue moving on, this invited the spirit of the deceased to remain in the home and to haunt without end.
- Probably the most logical explanation for the practice of stopping a clock at about the time of a person's death is to record the time of death. This was done especially if the home was located in a remote place where it would take a while for help to arrive or for the coroner to arrive to pick up the body.
Another Fascinating Superstition About Death ~
There is another belief that I found to be fascinating, and that is a belief regarding removing the body of the deceased person from the home when they have passed away in the home.
This belief, or superstition, is that when the person is put onto a stretcher to be taken out of the home, they should always be taken out the door feet first. If they are taken out of the home head first, this allows them to "look" back into the home and beckon someone else still in the home to join them in death.
No Matter What, I Would Respect The Beliefs Of Others ~
It's hard to know whether to believe these superstitions or not. I know when my husband's Mother passed away, almost 15 years ago now I guess, she passed away in the home she and my Father-in-law were living in at the time, and from what I can remember, there wasn't a mirror in the room, so we didn't feel any need to do this. I don't remember if a clock was in the room or not.
We did have a hospice nurse there with us at the time, and that helped a lot. I think hospice nurses are special kinds of angels here on earth. Whenever we are feeling charitable, we try to give to hospices whenever we can. They do wonderful things and are fantastic teachers and helpers through a process that many of us find difficult to understand.
I do think that if someone else had these beliefs or superstitions and if they wanted to have the mirror covered and the clock stopped I would most definitely respect their wishes. That's the beauty of living in this country, in the United States. There is freedom to believe what you want and hopefully respect for those beliefs. At least I always try to be respectful of the beliefs of others and I would hope I would be treated the same way. Isn't that the golden rule anyway to treat others as you would like to be treated? I think that's a good rule to follow in life.
Do You Believe These Superstitions Enough To Follow Them?
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I am a freelance writer on HubPages, BlogMutt, Textbroker and Constant Content. I was a staff writer for the country music magazine Neon Rainbow from September, 2001 through June, 2003.