When my son was born, my husband’s grandmother asked if she could tie a red ribbon to the bottom of his crib. This was to ward off the "evil eye" and keep away bad luck.
Some people wear a red string or bracelet on their left hand to ward off the "evil eye" too. The red bracelet is called a roite bindele in Yiddish, The idea of a red ribbon warding off evil comes from old Jewish folklore and is associated with Judaism’s Kabbalah. The Kabbalah is a mystical doctrine, not religious in nature.
The "evil eye" in Judaism is connected to other people’s envy having the potential to cause evil. Where newborns are concerned, there seems to be a connection with the mythological figure of Lilith. In some stories, Lilith was Adam’s first wife (before Eve). She became known as a demonic woman who was blamed for the deaths of infants. She’s also known as a baby-stealer. Talismans are worn to ward off her "evil eye".
The tradition of using a red string to ward off evil is associated with Rachel, the wife of Jacob in the Bible. Rachel is considered to be the "eternal mother" who watches over children.
There is a ritual that is still performed at Rachel’s Tomb. It involves wrapping a red string around her tombstone seven times while a Rabbi recites a prayer.
People wear a piece of the string as a charm to ward off evil and to protect the person wearing it from danger.
Please feel free to share any traditions you know about talismans to ward off evil and to protect babies in the comments below.
Image: Rachel and Jacob by William Dyce (1806–1864)
This article was posted on Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 at 2:17 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Customs and Traditions, Customs for Newborn Babies, Folk Lore, Good Luck, Good Luck Charms, Good Luck Colors, Israel, Languages, Parenting, Red String, Roite Bindele, Superstitions, USA, Yiddish. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
9 Responses to “Tying a Red Ribbon on a Baby’s Crib for Good Luck”
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March 16th, 2013 at 10:35 am
Here in Philippines (not sure if everywhere in Philippines though) we also have that kind of practice. We even have a red “mini-cushion”-like that is pinned on the baby’s dress alongside the red bracelet. I used to pin that on my son’s dress but since I always forget to remove it, I just don’t pin it anymore but I pray for my son’s health and safety instead.
Thanks for this article!
March 22nd, 2013 at 2:23 pm
That’s interesting Mary Grace! Thanks for sharing.
September 12th, 2014 at 3:26 pm
In the mexican culture, Pregnant women wear a pin (safety pin) on their underwear to protect your baby from an eclipse. Thats to prevent your child to be born with a cleft lip. What is also interesting is that some women advise you to wear a Red Ribbon as well (on that safety pin) This is to protect yourself and your baby from evil, evil eye, hate, envy etc.. You must transfer this pin when you use a new pair of underwear, even when you sleep!. Im currently pregnant and wear it All time.. It might sound silly, but its something so simple to do and i wont take my chances! Cheers from California.
September 12th, 2014 at 3:51 pm
That’s interesting! Thanks for sharing. Best of luck! Mama Lisa
January 14th, 2015 at 9:07 pm
In the area of Jamaica where I am from babies usually have some item of clothing that is red, usually a little chemise or a little cap of some sort. My mother who was a seamstress would make all the girls a little red dress and my brother a little red shirt. As soon as she noticed that you were outgrowing one, she’d make another. She never said why, but always said it’s good to have something red. Without meaning to I have noticed that most nights I sleep in an old red t-shirt:)
March 27th, 2015 at 12:58 am
Back in the 1950’s my mother pinned one red, and one black ribbon to the baby’s t shirt. Each was about 1 inch long, and a quarter of an inch wide. She used a tiny brass (gold colored) safety pin to do it. My mother never told us why, or she did, and I just can’t remember what she said. I guess it was to protect the child from evil, but why red AND black? Does anyone know the answer to this?
March 17th, 2016 at 11:21 am
[…] informed me that she had tied a red ribbon to the underside of his bassinet – you know, to ward off the evil eye and keep bad luck away now that he was […]
April 23rd, 2016 at 9:23 pm
I found this about it being good luck to put iron nails in cribs in Celtic countries (from here):
“In Celtic countries people believe that it is good luck to put nails in the crib of a newborn baby. This protects them from the fairies which according to legend came in the night and took all beautiful children and left ugly babies or ‘changelings’ in their place. If a mother had a particularly ugly child she would often say it was a changeling and not her real child. Incidentally, people believed that iron was magical and so it is not the nails but the iron that they are made out of which is supposed to bring the good luck.”
April 20th, 2017 at 1:57 am
Placing a red ribbon made of cloth, not paper, tied in a bow over your front door immediately stops illness and pain. I know this by experience.