Under the Bed on Your Birthday

While researching the peculiar custom of being put under the bed on your birthday, I have found just a few google hits mentioning it. My Pappaw John was big on it.  It was supposed to bring you good luck for the following year. I remember reading in a book somewhere that it was an old English custom.

It wasn’t one of those quirky made up things that only my family partook in.  I mentioned it in an earlier post and on Facebook.  Several folks around here were thrust under the bed with the dust bunnies and whatever else lived under there.  My aunt sent me a dvd with some old family videos on it from the early 60s.  Lo and behold, there is my cousin being put under his crib on his birthday.

Sweet little picture of me, my brother and my Pappaw John.  Probably around 1964.  I seem to be doubting something, probably a story Pappaw was telling :)

Sweet little picture of me, my brother Jimmy, and my Pappaw John. Probably around 1964. I seem to be doubting something, probably a story Pappaw was telling 🙂

I can’t even remember what happened after I went under the bed due to the trauma of laying down there where the monsters lived.  I think they all cheerfully sat on the edge of the bed and counted my years or sang happy birthday.

I did find some rather intriguing things that go on under the bed while on my hunt for the reason why you would terrify a child as part of the birthday bash.

In an ancient Middle Eastern custom used to protect a new mother and infant from evil spirits – in particular Broshah, the female demon who steals newborn children – sweetmeats were placed under the bed to keep the evil spirits occupied eating them. 

Ten million children can’t be wrong,  monsters do  live under there!

French peasants believed that if the ashes from the Christmas Yule Log were kept under the bed, they would protect the house against thunder and lightning.

In China, a bride will present her in-laws and groom with new shoes according to their wedding customs.  In the wedding chamber, the gate-crashers will snatch the grooms new wedding shoes and throw them deep under the bridal bed.  This forces the groom to humble himself when he bends to retrieve his shoes, ensuring a harmonious marriage. 

A knife under the bed will dull the pain of childbirth.

A Victorian Superstition is that a dog howling at night when someone in the house is sick is a bad omen. It can be reversed by reaching under the bed and turning over a shoe.

If someone is ill or hurt and bleeding, place an ax under their bed to stop the bleeding.

If you want to have a baby girl, put a wooden spoon and a pair of scissors under the bed and a pink bow under the pillow. 

There seem to be a lot of things going on under the bed.

Birthday girls should not be one of them.

Was it a custom in your house when you were growing up?

12 thoughts on “Under the Bed on Your Birthday

  1. I was put under the bed for my birthday until I was a teen and then just woke up by my Father smacking me on my bottom for how many years old I was. Never knew the reason that it was done. Love your stories.

  2. Yes, it was a custom at our house, under the bed and a swat for each year old you were and one to grow on. Under the bed stopped when we got too big to get under the bed, but the swatting and one to grow on continued.

  3. Our tradition in eastern Kentucky included not only spanking and going under the bed but putting the appropriate number of ash spots on your face.

  4. Yes we did that when I lived at home… but I was the youngest so didn’t really get to participate much wi th my siblings but was always the ‘victim.’ Ha. My husband and several friends never heard of it. Never knew why we did it so Thank you for the info.

  5. We were spanked one time for every year old you were (not hard) and then rolled under the bed! Every year of my youth. We thought it hilarious. We didn’t have any under the bed fears. Lol

  6. I have searched for years online for this “tradition” – I’m guessing our Scottish-Irish ancestry originated it (though I haven’t found any ‘across the pond’ sources). Our family tradition is the spank for each year and ‘head under the bed’ – so it didn’t have to be a full body immersion (LOL).

  7. Yes, it was a custom in our house. My German settled in Indiana and Ohio in the mid 19th century; my Irish grandmother immigrated 100 years earlier. My father kept the tradition going. We thought it was funny. I asked my brother if he continued it and he said he didn’t. He didn’t know the significance.

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