The folks of Appalachia have always been a superstitious lot — I can’t recall how many times I’ve seen my father refuse to close a pocket knife someone else had opened or how many people I have watched family members go out of their way to ensure they left a building through the same door they had entered.
Last week, Appalachian Magazine published an article entitled, “Why Your Grandparents Planted by the Signs“, something I never truly understood as a child, but a reality to which I was keenly aware — we wouldn’t be able to plant certain crops until granny would tell us “the signs was right.”
One reader offered a very simple explanation as to the “why”, when he simply replied, “Because it works!”
To my astonishment, however, we received hundreds of comments and messages from individuals whose families took these beliefs to a level far past my own — relying upon “the signs” to do everything from getting a haircut to determining when to potty train a child.
The basis many people use to serve as a foundation for the belief that the phases of the moon can have a direct effect upon one’s plants, their hair and children’s bodies comes from the opening words of Genesis:
“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years… And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.” — Genesis 1.14, 16
“G’ma and Dad always [relied upon the signs]! Oh yes, it works! For the pottytraining and weaning from bottle, also for cutting hair at right date to make it grew slower/faster. Our God made our bodies and the earth to be in sync…” wrote one reader.
If you’re thinking that cutting one’s hair based upon the phases moon is some archaic relic of Appalachian mountain lore, you might be shocked to learn that the writers at Glamour explored this topic a few years after one of the individuals serving in their “Girls in the Beauty Department” was thumbing through a Farmers’ Almanac and came upon a lists for the “best dates for cutting hair to increase growth, right alongside its suggested dates for planting crops or mowing the lawn.”
Sandi Duncan, managing editor for Farmers Almanac kindly explained to fashion writer Petra Guglielmetti the back story behind such a belief:
“Many people believe that the moon has a direct pull not only on the tides, but a variety of other living things on earth.”
Schwarzkopf International, a worldwide brand that offers tips for the care of one’s hair, had this to say:
“Conditions during the waxing moon promote hair growth after a haircut. Therefore, you should cut your hair between the new and full moon if you want your hair to grow fast after a haircut. If you wear short hair and you want your hair to grow as slowly as possible you should cut your hair during the waning phase of the moon (between the full and new moon). Your short hairstyle will keep its shape longer.”
But the begging question remains: Is all of this talk superstition or science? Is “lunar haircutting” just plain lunacy or is there something to it? I’m not sure, but I intend to begin taking notes regarding my hair over the next few months!
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