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Parsley Superstitions

Superstitions About Parsley

Parsley has always had associations with magical powers, and is seen in some countries as an evil plant despite its usefulness in the kitchen. In Ancient Greece it was the herb which most symbolized death, and graves were strewn with it. It was served with meat in order to calm the spirit of the slaughtered animal.

Parsley can take a long time to germinate, and it used to be said that it had to visit the Devil nine times before the seeds sprouted. If you are brave enough to grow parley in your garden, then it will apparently grow best in a place where the female is more powerful than the male partner. If sowing parsley, the only day on which it can be done that does not throw the immortal soul of the gardener into serious risk is Good Friday, when Satan has no jurisdiction over the soil. (OOPS! I always have some parsley in my garden and Good Friday is far too early to plant it in these Northern climes… guess I’ll have to keep taking my chances, since I really like having fresh parsley when I want it. Danielle

From the book : The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Signs and Symbols by Adele Nozedar

by Mary-Anne Alvaro

Being of Eastern European descent, I grew up with my fair share of superstitions.

Don’t pour a drink underhand, it will cause the recipient to pass out.
Don’t show a baby it’s own face in the mirror for the first year of life, it will scare the soul out of the body.

My grandparents kept these alive, but as the years passed and their lives settled in the west, many superstitions were forgotten.

Thanks to my heritage, my interest in superstitions hasn’t waned. In my copy of “A Dictionary of Superstitions” (edited by Iona Opie and Moira Tatem, published by Oxford University Press), I found eight entries for parsley alone. Check these out.

All that follows is directly quoted. The sources date back through the centuries and where possible, the dates of publication are included. The superstitions themselves, however, date back farther than their publication dates. Most are western beliefs and come from England.


1883 – “Parsley is an uncanny herb…”it goes to the devil nine times and very often forgets to come back again.” Parsley seed is long germinating coz “Goes to hell and back ‘fore sprouts.”

1983 – It’s surprising parsley still exists, because according to an old-wives’ tale only the wicked can grow it.

1873 – It is the belief of the peasantry in this part of the country (S.Hants),that it is very unlucky to give parsley.

1954 – A Swansea friend will not give a (parsley) root away as doing so brings bad luck.

1960 – Some years ago she saw a woman from the village hovering over the parsley bed and carefully removing first one plant and then another….”I was utterly amazed,” says my correspondent, “for I knew…that she was the soul of honesty…I would have given her all she wanted”…And that, it seems was just the difficulty, because parsley plants must not be given. ( Yorkshire, England)

1849 – It is reckoned very unlucky to transplant parsley.

1912 – I never transplant parsley. That’s the worst thing you can go for to do. You sow some on a bed and lets it grow there, and that’s all right, but if you digs it up and goes for to transplant it, someone in the family’s sure to die.

1955 – Parsley should not be transplanted, it means a death in the family.

1890 – If a stranger plants parsley in a garden, great trouble will befall the owner.


1883 – “Where parsley grows in the garden, the missus is the master.”

1905 – Where the mistress is the master, The parsley grows the faster.

1969 – It is still a widely held…..belief that parsley…flourishes best either when sown by the housewife rather than by her husband, or in gardens of homes where she is “master”.


1933 – If a young woman sows parsley-seed she will have a child.

1936 – the planting of parsley in Surrey is frequently considered to mean an addition to the family.

1951 – when a woman wants a baby, she should go out and plant some parsley.

1707 – Aristotle’s Last Legacy – Take Parsley, bruise it, and press out the juice and put it (being so dipp’d) into the Mouth of the Womb, and it will presently cause the Child to come away.

1938 – Parsley is believed to prevent a pregnancy, and is sometimes eaten as a salad by young married women who do not desire to have a family.

1982 – If you want to bring on your period put a sprig of parsley inside your vagina for 12 hours – your period should start 24 hours later.


Apparently, in the 1600’s and 1700’s in England, children were told that little girls came from the parsley bed. There seemed to be some dispute as to where little boys came from though, some say the gooseberry bush, others the nettle bush.

So, parsley – of all things – associated with women and power, birth and death, good luck and bad. And here I thought it just looked pretty and worked on bad breath!


Published in 1937 in Sussex County Magazine:
“Unless I plants our parsley bed
I’ll have wi’ you no truck,’
Ses I to him, ‘for she,’ I said
‘Can give or take our luck.

You, lad, may dig and hoe and weed the taters in their rows,
But women-folk sow parsley seed, As all in Sussex knows.
For parsley has a power, lad, That’s old as histories,
‘Twas guv her as a dower, lad,

By Dowland pharisees’ (fairies).

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