One for Sorrow.........

A visitor from the US recently asked what the pretty black and white birds that we have in Scotland are called.  Magpies!  I hadn't really thought about it but was surprised (I don't know why) to find that they are not so common elsewhere in the world.  I was also surprised to hear them described as pretty because most people I know don't like them.  Why not?  The song of course:

One for sorrow, two for joy;
Three for a girl, four for a boy;
Five for silver, six for gold;
Seven for a secret, never to be told;
Eight for a wish, nine for a kiss;
Ten for a bird that's best to miss.

Or the older version:

One for sorrow, two for mirth,
Three for a wedding, four for a birth,
Five for silver, six for gold,
Seven for a secret not to be told.
Eight for heaven, nine for hell,
And ten for the devil's own sel'.

Why one for sorrow, two for joy?  Apparently they mate for life so seeing one means it's lost it's mate. Not  necessarily considering she could be sitting on eggs.  Seeing one Magpie is supposed to be bad luck, they have been considered an ill omen since the early 16th century.   For some reason, like crows, they are associated with the devil and seen as evil?

I know people who's day an be ruined because of one black and white bird.  This has lead me to suggest a stapling programme to ensure they are always seen in pairs.  People who lack a sense of humour think this is cruel.

Apart from the song people dislike them because they are cheeky, challenging and arrogant.  They are killers who are getting blamed for the decline of songbirds such as the thrush (although the RSPB have proved this isn't the case). As a result, they're often hunted but Magpies are cunning and difficult to trap. 

So they are just trying to survive (live long and prosper even), mate for life and have a cheeky chappie attitude so people hate them. They have adapted with the environment and people decide they are villains, bit ironic really.

So having someone described them as pretty made me take another look, they are beautiful, striking birds with a bluey / green tinge to their black feathers.  I also learned that they kill loads of creepy crawlies and pests so not so evil after all.  In China and Korea they are a symbol of happiness so at least someone loves them.

I've decided that the only superstitions I'm bothering with are ones that mean good things so as far as Magpies are concerned I'm following the Chinese.

9 comments:

Just Plain Tired said...

We don't see them around here either. They are a striking looking bird though. I'd go with the Chinese as well. Good luck is better than bad luck any day. :)

The Blogger Formerly Known As said...

Way down here in the south, we have loads. When I look out of my office window, there are mainly crows and magpies, and I find them both extremely endearing (I love their cheekiness). Which, if British perception is right, would probably make me evil. But, so what? Let’em think what they like!
The enigmatic, masked blogger strikes again

Miss Melicious said...

Well we have 'em in Canada. Although they can be a bit bothersome, they're all over, so I'll side with you and the Chinese!

#1Nana said...

We have them in eastern Oregon too...and I dislike them. I don't think they are pretty either. I didn't know the poem.

Mustang Sally said...

Oh that a gorgeous bird! I'd never seen one but I understand that they're in the same family as Crow, and yeah, Crow has that same rep.

Smart, adaptable, and with attitude ... what's not to like? Silly people

fizzee rascal said...

Like most birds, they're absolutely beautiful.
Btw, I didn't know the old version of the song, I like it more than the newer one.

French Bean & Coffee Bean said...

When I first got to Dijon, I kept smiling every time I saw a Magpie (Miami greatly lacks these birds). They honestly just have a lovely plummage!

-Barb the French Bean

Iron Criterion said...

Superstitions irritate the hell out of me, surely humanity has grown out that mindset by now.

And I agree with everyone else, Magpies are beautiful.

The Author is Unknown said...

All animals are beautiful.

I cannot understand why anybody would dislike any kind of animal.

If I had a choice of never ever seeing another human from this second forward or never ever seeing another animal.....the humans are gone.

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