The Origins Of Popular Superstitions And Customs  ~ Magick7





In some parts of the country it used to be thought, probably is still thought, wise to retain a loaf baked on Good Friday, under the impression that it acts as a charm and a medicinal cure. A writer in The Gentleman's Magazine (1867) says on the subject of Suffolk superstitions:--"Calling at a cottage one day I saw a small loaf hanging up oddly in a corner of the house. I asked why it was placed there, and was told it was a Good Friday loaf--a loaf baked on Good Friday; that it would never grow mouldy (and on inspecting it I certainly found it very dry) and that it was very serviceable against some diseases, the bloody flux being mentioned as an example. Some weeks afterwards I called again, with a friend, at the same house, and drew his attention to the loaf which was hanging in its accustomed corner. The owner of the house endeavoured to take the loaf down gently, but failing in the attempt, he gave a violent pull, and the precious loaf to his dismay was shivered to atoms; but in the catastrophe gave us further proofs of its extraordinary dryness. The old man collected the fragments and hung them up in a paper bag with all the more reverence on account of the good which the loaf, as he alleged, had done his son. The young man, having been seized with a slight attack of English cholera in the summer, secretly 'abscinded' and ate a piece of the loaf, and when his family expressed astonishment at his rapid recovery, he explained the mystery by declaring that he had eaten of the Good Friday loaf, and had been cured by it."

This is a curious instance of a religious festival day being regarded as able to impart a peculiar consecration to material substances. That the bread should not become mouldy is easily explained by its position; that it should cure cholera is just as easily understood, for the cure was faith-healing--nothing more, nothing less.