(Brassica oleracea 'capitata') "If thou desirest to die, eat cabbages in August". That was one of the medical maxims from the Book of Iago ab Dewi (Berdoe), and shows that cabbages were regarded with some suspicion at the time. Now it is difficult to see, or even think of, anything uncanny about a cabbage, but the Pennsylvania Germans used to say that a cabbage plant running to seed the first year, or one with two heads on one stalk, is a sign of death (Whitney & Bullock, Fogel). If one of them had white leaves, it meant a funeral. But it is good luck if you find one growing "double", that is, with two shoots from a single root (Waring) (different from two heads on one stalk). Equally odd is a superstition from Illinois that if a woman eats cabbage during her confinement, she will die. Similarly, mothers are advised not to eat it while breast-feeding a baby - it will give the child colic (H M Hyatt). In Normandy, they say that you should never eat or pull a cabbage on St Stephen's Day (26 December), for the saint, according to their tradtion, was stoned to death in a cabbage patch (W B Johnson). Similarly, American belief holds that it is most unlucky to have a head of cabbage in the house on New Year's Day (H M Hyatt), but in Kentucky they say that if you eat cabbage on New Year's Day, you will have money all the year (Thomas & Thomas).

To ensure a good crop, make a cross on the stump every time you cut one (Tongue. 1965). There is a medieval Jewish tale which is very similar to the myth of Baldur in Scandinavian mythology. Every tree had sworn it would not bear Christ's body, except for a cabbage stalk, and it was on that he was crucified. Another twist brings the Baldur myth even closer, for there were English traditions according to which Christ was crucified on a mistletoe (Turville-Petrie). Next to a broomstick, ragwort is the likeliest thing to serve as a witch's horse, but another tradition says they use cabbage stalks on which to ride through the air (Wood-Martin, Simpkins). Because green is an unlucky colour at Scottish weddings, care used to be taken that no cabbage or any other green vegetable should be served up on the occasion. All over France, children are found under a cabbage, not a gooseberry as in England. Parents, speaking of the time before their child was born, would tell them "c'était du temps où ils étaient encore dans les choux" (Sebillot). So they are in Maryland, too, though not under the cabbage, but in the cabbage head (Whitney & Bullock). To dream of cutting cabbage is a sign that your wife, or husband, or lover as the case may be, is very jealous. If you are actually eating a cabbage, then it is a sign of sickness for said wife, husband or lover (Raphael). The American interpretation of dreaming of them is that you will experience sorrow if the dream is of eating it, or if it is a growing plant, good fortune is coming to you (H M Hyatt). Sow them on St Gertrude's Day, which is 17 March, for the best results, say the Germans, and the Pennsylvania Germans, too (Fogel), but in Kentucky, the favoured day is 9 May, and scatter elder leaves over them to keep insects away. Another piece of American wisdom advises sprinkling flour over the plants while the dew is on them, to drive away worms. Pennyroyal leaves can be used to the same effect (H M Hyatt).

Cabbage is very popular in eastern Europe and in Russia, where it is used for making soups, and also as a stuffing for cakes. Fermented cabbage is known in English by its German name, Sauerkraut. Even in this country, there were other uses for it than the almost inevitable boiled greens. In the 19th century, it was the custom to bake bread rolls wrapped in cabbage leaves; it was said to give them a nice flavour (Fernie), though the reason given in Warwickshire was that doing so would give the bread a thinner crust (Bloom). Cabbage leaves are used medicinally, too. Wrapping a leaf round the affected part is a Cornish remedy for rheumatism (Hawke), and holding them to the affected side will cure a stitch, they say (Page. 1978). Fried cabbage leaves used to be the Irish method of deadening the pain caused by a burn (Wilde. 1890). If they are fried, then it must be the grease that is doing the work, and the leaf is merely the vehicle for it. They are spoken of as "roasted" in co Cavan, and used to put on a cut (Maloney). Logan also records the Irish use of cabbage leaves for a burn, but he says they are macerated thoroughly, and applied along with the juice. In much the same way, he says, green cabbage leaves used to be a favourite Irish remedy to treat ulcers; he must be talking of a poultice, though not necessarily, for the leaves could simply be applied, and herbalists prescribe cabbage juice for stomach ulcers (Thomson. 1978). Put a cabbage leaf to "draw the cold out", in other words, to cure a headache, they used to say in Essex, and they would cure a toothache by putting a hot cabbage leaf sprinkled with pepper to the cheek (Newman & Wilson). Not only that, but the inner leaves are the ideal medicament to draw a boil, at least that is the practice in Shropshire and Cheshire (Barbour), and in East Anglia, too, where abscesses are similarly treated (V G Hatfield. 1994). And it is even recorded in co Cavan that a boil could be treated simply by eating cabbage leaves (Maloney). In Scotland, they were made into a cap to put on a child's head for eczema (Rorie). And eminently practical is the Kentucky practice of putting a wet cabbage leaf on the head to keep off sunstroke (Thomas & Thomas). There is, too, from Illinois, a recommendation that raw cabbage chopped fine and mixed with salt, pepper, vinegar and sugar, and eaten once a day, is the best thing to bring blood pressure down (H M Hyatt).


Baby Sleeping

Baby Sleeping

Everything You Need To Know About Baby Sleeping. Your baby is going to be sleeping a lot. During the first few months, your baby will sleep for most of theday. You may not get any real interaction, or reactions other than sleep and crying.

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