The reason you won’t find a hat on my bed
I don’t like clutter. I can’t always avoid it, but I try my best to be as clutter-free as possible. This means keeping things organized on my desk and keeping junk off places it doesn’t belong, like my bed.
One item you’ll certainly never find on my bed is a hat. That’s partially because I rarely wear a hat (except in the winter, when I always don my earflap hat that mercifully keeps my ears from freezing). Every once in a while, I’ll carelessly toss that hat onto my bed.
It may take a few minutes for me to realize the grave mortal sin that I’ve committed, but once I do, I immediately swipe that hat right off. I know it sounds crazy, but I have a good reason for banning hats on my bed: my grandma told me not to.
At least, that’s the reason I’ve cited my whole life. My grandma told me not to leave hats on the bed, so that was that. Why did she not want them on the bed? Well, because it’s bad! And why is it bad? Well…I guess I never considered that.
Until now. Unfortunately, my grandma is no longer with me, so I can’t find out directly from the source the reason for her superstition. My great aunts and uncles live in South America and I haven’t met them, so that leaves the next best option: my mom.
To my disappointment, my mom did not know the reason behind the hat myth. So now I must turn to the third best (or worst?) option: the internet.
Yes, the World Wide Web, the seedy information superhighway where you can’t trust anything you read and everyone is out to get their hands on your money, your identity, or all of your free time.
Anyway, I took to the net to do some light research that basically involved typing “hat on the bed superstition” into Google and was surprised by the amount of results I received.
What I thought might have been a quaint Bolivian folkloric superstition turned out to be a pretty popular custom, based on what I found. There were countless people who had already questioned the hat on the bed rule, and possibly just as many explanations for it.
The explanations given took several forms. Some were practical and boring: hats contain head lice, and no one wants lice in their bed! Someone might sit on your hat! (This, in my opinion, was the lamest suggestion of all.)
Others were more mythic. One suggested that people used to believe evil spirits lived in hair and people thought that the pops and crackles caused by static after taking off one’s hat were made by spirits.
Some suggestions referenced the films “Drugstore Cowboy” and “Shadow of a Doubt,” which both have scenes advocating an anti-hat-on-the-bed sentiment.
My favorite theory, however, is probably the grimmest. It comes from a French book on superstitions and states that a hat on a bed resembles the image of a crown on a coffin. This, in turn, will attract death into a home, and someone who places a hat on another person’s bed is showing their desire to see that person die.
It gets even better by explaining that Picasso saw a hat on his bed one day and thought one of his enemies was out to kill him. It’s also known as a bad omen for boxers and fighters regarding their upcoming matches.
I think I’ll choose this as my explanation for the superstition and the one that I may pass down to my kids. At least, as long as I only find my own hats on the bed. While searching this superstition, I learned something else I didn’t anticipate: there is no one answer to any given superstition or myth. They’re passed down across generations and continents, so their origins inevitably get altered, like the messages passed by kids during a game of telephone.
So, I’d like to ask any readers to submit any superstitions they know of. They can be ones you grew up with, ones you still believe in, or ones you know other people believe. If you know the answer behind them, great. If not, that’s even better – I’ll look them up! You can send them to me at email@example.com and I will feature them in an upcoming column.