Yesterday, Nicola Holdsworth told us about some British traditions. She mentioned:
Having a chimney sweep at your wedding is good luck i.e. to bless it I think, is supposed to bring good luck for the newly married couple.
I read more about this tradition (in Folklore and The Journal of American Folklore) and found that chimney sweeps would hang around outside churches to bless weddings and make a little extra money.
By chance, I happened to watch Mary Poppins last night after learning about this tradition. The movie starts with a song about a Chimney Sweep called “Chim Chim Cheree” by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. Here’s the part I found interesting…
Chim chim cher-ee!
A sweep is as lucky
As lucky can be…
…Good luck will rub off when
I shake ‘ands with you
Or blow me a kiss
And that’s lucky too.
I looked into the custom further and found that people believe(d) that kissing a chimney sweep was good luck and even that seeing one during the day (any day) was a good sign.
Even in modern day England, there’s a remnant of this custom of the lucky chimney sweep. I asked Frances Turnbull if they currently follow the tradition of having a chimney sweep at weddings. She said:
Actually, my mother-in-law gave me a little plastic chimney sweep, which I didn’t understand at the time – I remember the wedding photographer kept trying to get me to get rid of it because it made my dress look like there was a hole in it!
If anyone would like to share their stories about chimney sweeps, we’d love to learn more about this custom in the UK and elsewhere. Feel free to comment below.
Many thanks to Frances Turnbull, from Musicaliti, for sharing her story about chimney sweeps and to Nicola Holdsworth for explaining British traditions so wonderfully!
Don’t forget to blow a kiss at your chimney sweep for good luck!
This artilce was posted on Friday, February 12th, 2010 at 2:54 pm and is filed under Chimney Sweeps, Countries & Cultures, Customs and Traditions, England, Folk Lore, Gift Giving, Good Luck, Mama Lisa, Mary Poppins, Movies, TV & The Internet, Superstitions, United Kingdom, Wedding Gifts, Weddings. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.