Rules explicitly forbidding people to do some specific thing, often petty in itself, on pain of serious ill luck, or failure in some enterprise (as opposed to a mere belief that an action is unlucky). Current English examples are the bans on saying 'pig', 'rat', or 'rabbit' at sea, whistling at sea or in the *theatre, and mentioning Macbeth. Until recently, there were also taboos on doing seasonal things out of season, for example putting up *Christmas decorations before Christmas Eve or eating festive foods on the wrong dates, but commercial pressures have eroded many of these. Most people, however, still avoid singing carols except during a few weeks either side of Christmas.
   A taboo on speaking often features in tales about attempts to recover lost *bells and buried *treasures, in *divination, and in magical procedures such as catching *fernseed, all of which must be performed in silence.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

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