For centuries, grandmothers everywhere have given us advice on what is good to eat, what isn’t good to eat, when it will rain, and even what sex your baby will be.
In the same way that your grandmother passed on to you the family’s best biscuit recipe ever (and we don’t doubt that it is excellent), some well-meaning advice also gets passed down from generation to generation with no questions asked.
Often, such advice is quickly discounted, but – believe it or not – some of these old “wives’ tales” are true.
Let’s take a look at five strange, but true, old wives’ tales.
1. Green potatoes kill
This is true; however, you would have to eat two very large potatoes. Of course, this all depends on body size and age, as well as the “dose.” Green potatoes contain the nerve toxin solanine. There are terrible tales of people who have eaten these green little tubers and died. Even just a few bites from a green potato is enough to make most people vomit, but you have to ask yourself: Why would anyone eat a green potato anyway?
2. An apple a day
Everyone knows this old saying. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? While apples are super-nutritious, full of vitamin C, pectin and fiber, we can’t go so far as saying that eating an apple each day will prevent things like diabetes, arthritis or cancer. However, a study in 2013 did find that if people over the age of 50 ate just one apple every day, they could help prevent heart attack and stroke.
3. Persimmon seeds and snow
Another old wives’ tale says that you can take a persimmon seed and cut it in half, and the shape you see inside the seed will tell you the kind of winter you are going to have. If you see a spoon shape, then there will be lots of wet, heavy snow. If you see a knife, there will be plenty of cutting, cold wind. A fork means a mild winter with only light, powdery snow.
This sounds a little crazy, but a study done in Jefferson County, Mo., found that this old wives’ tale has been correct 14 out of 18 years.
4. Hair of the dog
So you really went all out at that party and became close friends with Jack Daniels. You are paying for it this morning, however, and would give anything to stop that headache. One old wives’ tale says that “a little hair of the dog” that bit you (a shot or two of the same alcohol you were drinking) is a quick “cure.”
Although most doctors say this is a bad idea – you’re simply prolonging your hangover – one prominent writer — Adam Rogers, the author of Proof: The Science of Booze — says there is a bit of science behind why it works. Still, he discourages it.
“The people who admit to using hair of the dog as a treatment for their hangovers … turn out to be the ones more likely to have an alcohol dependency later in life,” he told WVTF.
Doctors say the best cure is to sleep.
5. Baby boy or girl?
There are as many old wives’ tales about how to tell if you are carrying a boy or girl as there are blades of grass! One of them, however, appears to be true.
Deliveries that are fairly quick appear to be, more often than not, girls. Long labor times, or hard labor, usually mean it’s a boy.
One study found that, while boys are not necessarily bigger or heavier than girls, their heads are generally larger, resulting in a longer and more difficult labor.
Old wives’ tales reminds me of a story I once read where a woman was making her grandmother’s famous pot roast recipe. The recipe started off by saying that you needed to cut the end off one side. The woman began to wonder why this was. Was it meant to make the piece juicier? To allow the sauce to permeate the meat better? She called her mother and asked why she should cut the end off the meat. Her mother didn’t know, so the woman called her grandmother. “Oh, that,” her grandmother said, “it’s because I used MY grandmother’s roasting pan and it was very small, so we had to cut the end off the roast so it would fit.”
What old wives’ tales would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below: