Many people will be able to sing along with that song from the Walt Disney version of Mary P. Travers' "Mary Poppins," but not as many know that In Germany, Austria, Hungary, and contiguous regions, the chimney sweep is considered a particularly auspicious omen of good luck if you meet with him on New Year's Day.
The postcard shown here is inscribed in Hungarian "Boldog Ujevet" (which, according to reader Marcell Revisnyei, means "Happy New Year"). It was postally used on January 1st, 1938. It is typical of Central and Eastern European New Year's postcards in which a chimney sweep -- often a blond child -- is shown frolicking in the snow, tossing out lucky talismans by the basketful.
The imagery on this card is unusual to American eyes because the slipshod young chimney sweep is not only sprinkling the ground with four-leaf clovers, he is equally generous in his distribution of toxic red and white Amanita muscaria mushrooms. This is not as strange as it seems, however, for while the four-leaf clover is considered lucky throughout Europe and North America, the Amanita muscaria or "gluckpilz" ("lucky mushroom" in German) is deemed fortuitous in Central and Eastern Europe, where there are remnants of respect for its ancient use as a shamanic hallucinogen.
When i asked my mother Lilo Glozer, who was born in Germany, about the chimney sweep as a bringer of New Year's luck, she replied:
"New Year's was not celebrated in Germany until the l7th century, according to an old book I have on German folklore, so originally, this took place on Christmas or Saint Nicholas' Day, but anyway, gifts were given on New Year's Day to people who delivered bread or did household chores that were not performed by live-in servants. In exchange, these purveyors of services often handed out little cards with a blessing or good wishes.
"Meeting a chimney sweep -- called a Schornsteinfeger or Schlotfeger -- at New Year's meant good luck for the year, especially if he would give you his card. However, by the time my sister and I were children, in the 1910s and 1920s, chimney sweeps were sufficiently rare that meeting one at any time of the year was considered lucky."
Chimney sweeps can also be found in the form of silver bracelet charms, small figurines, wooden incense :"smokers," Good Luck Semi-Sweet Chocolate labels like the one shown here (which also depicts a lucky horseshoe), and even edible mid-winter gifts in which the chimney sweep's body is made of dried prunes.
Other European postcards in my collection show chimney sweeps giving people money bags, riding in toboggans with lucky pigs, and strewing about prodigious amounts of four-leaf clovers and Amanita muscaria mushrooms.
Perhaps i am fingerpainting here, but
i see in this sooty New year's mushroom-bringer the folkloric
remains of a shamanic Winter Solstice tradition now long lost to
copyright © 1995-2003 catherine yronwode. All rights reserved.
Send your comments to: cat yronwode.
|Did you like what you read here? Find it useful?
Then please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo and make a small
donation to catherine yronwode for the creation and maintenance of this site.
interlinked web sites, each with its own distinctive theme and look.
You are currently reading
THE LUCKY W AMULET ARCHIVE by cat yronwode.
Here are some other LUCKY MOJO web sites you can visit:
There are 6,000 web pages at Lucky Mojo. You can search for a single word (like mojo, hoodoo, pagan, or magick) or an exact phrase (like love spells, witchcraft supplies, or rootwork course):
OTHER SITES OF INTEREST
Yronwode Family: www.yronwode.com, the home page for the Yronwode family
Garden of Joy Blues: www.gardenofjoyblues.com, former hippie commune in the Missouri Ozarks
Satan Service: www.satanservice.org, theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists