Good luck cricketLegends

The Cricket

The rooster on the steeple at First Church in Ipswich is believed to have been created by Deacon Shem Drowne, who also made the rooster now on First Church in Cambridge in 1721, and the large copper Indian for Boston’s Province House in 1716.

faneuil-grasshopper

The grasshopper on Faneuil Hall in Boston

In 1742 Shem Drowne made the copper grasshopper vane atop Boston’s Faneuil Hall in Boston. There is a legend that Drowne felt discouraged and lay down in an open field, where upon waking he saw a young boy chasing a grasshopper. Drowne walked the boy home to his wealthy parents, who gave him encouragement and helped him get his career going. The golden grasshopper weathervane commemorates this fortunate moment in his life.

Grasshoppers are members of the insect family Orthoptera, which includes crickets. In many parts of the world the cricket is a symbol of fortune, and it is believed that having a cricket chirping in the home or at the hearth brings good luck.

During the warm months, house crickets usually stay outdoors, but as the season gets cooler, they find a way into the house where they hide in dark places during the day, Crickets are harmless, and provide musical entertainment for summer nights. Chinese people began domesticating crickets during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) so that they could enjoy their songs year-long. Elaborate cricket houses made from gourds ensured the longevity and good health of their vocal insect residents. In Japan, people had “watch-crickets” to warn of intruders. When danger approached, the cricket’s chirping would stop.

Crickets can serve as thermometers because of the relationship between the air temperature and the rate at which crickets chirp, a correlation known as “Dolbear’s Law.” If you count the number of cricket chirps in 15 seconds and add 40, you’ll have the approximate fahrenheit temperature. It is also believed that if a cricket sings louder than usual, you can expect rain. Crickets in the kitchen or near the hearth are considered to be good luck. People today may call an exterminator, but it is widely believed that killing a cricket brings misfortune.

The House Cricket

by Mary Miller, the Christian Mother’s Magazine (1844)

The house cricket, Gryllus domesticus, passes the summer in warm situations such as the crevices of walls which have a western or southern aspect or amid heaps of rubbish which are exposed to the summer sun. It leaves its summer abode about the end of August or the beginning of September and establishes itself close to the kitchen or cottage fire side and is as merry at Christmas as other insects are in the dog days of summer.

The warm hearth however, which it thus enjoys, affords to the cricket a refuge only from that temporary torpidity which it has been frequently known to support for a long time when accidentally deprived of artificial warmth. A colony of crickets, if suddenly deprived of the warmth of the winter fire round which they have been accustomed to congregate, will at once disappear and take refuge in various undiscovered holes and hiding places, but let but the fire be rekindled and the customary warmth renewed, and the little merry insects will immediately shake off their torpor, and emerging from their temporary places of retreat will chirp as before around the domestic hearth.

Though they are frequently heard by day, yet is their natural time of motion only at night. As soon as it grows dusk the chirping increases and they come running forth. They are a thirsty race and show a great propensity for liquids, being found frequently drowned in pans of water milk broth or the like.

They are the housewife’s barometer, foretelling her when it will rain, and are prognostic. Sometimes she thinks of ill or good luck of the death of a near relation or the approach of an absent lover. By being the constant companions of her solitary hours they naturally become the objects of her superstition.

Sources and further reading: 

The Ski King: The Odes of  T‘ang
Song of Peasantry at the Close of the Year

 

The crickets are in the hall,
And the year is waning fast.
If now to our mirth we fail to fall,
Will its days and months be past.

Yet let us have no excess:
On our ways and means reflect;
Make merry, but wanton waste repress:
Good fellows are circumspect.

The crickets are in the hall,
And the year is hasting on.
If now to our mirth we fail to fall,
Will its days and months be gone.

Yet let us have no excess;
But the future keep in view;
Make merry, but wanton waste repress:
Good fellows are careful too.

The crickets are in the hall,
And at rest is every cart.
If now to our mirth we fail to fall,
Will its days and months depart.

Yet let us have no excess:
First think of the evil day;
Make merry, but wanton waste repress;
Good fellows may then be gay!

Categories: Legends, Uncategorized

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