Suck It Up, Kid!

Superstition: You must hold your breath when you go past a cemetery. Why? Because if you don’t, you’re at risk of possession by breathing in the soul of someone who has recently died. Supposedly, this is because you will either wake a spirit with each breath or else you, still being alive, will make the spirits jealous. Some people think that it is order to avoid inhaling evil spirits. (From

When my age was still in the single digits — in other words, a long time ago — my sister made me aware of this superstition. My sister is two years older than me and *much wiser* than I am. Consequently, she held a great deal of sway over me and if she told me to do something, I did it without argument.

I couldn’t say quite when she issued the directive to me to hold my breath as we drove past cemeteries. All I can tell you is that, to this day, it has stuck. Now, at age 43, the rational part of me still gives way to the doubter and I get the heebie jeebies if I pass a cemetery and don’t hold my breath.

Fortunately, there isn’t an abundance of cemeteries right around us and the few we do pass are relatively small.

A cemetery with a view!

Back in the day, we would visit relatives living on Long Island quite often. We would get out to them via the  Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Long Island Expressway. That meant driving past the renowned Calvary Cemetery. From Wiki: “With more than 3 million burials, it has the largest number of interments of any cemetery in the United States.”

To accommodate all those plots, the place is somewhere between gargantuan and ginormous. To avoid possession by a recently deceased spirit when passing I would have to hold my breath and hold my breath and hold my breath and … . Phew!

I never took deep enough breaths to make it past all those graves without my lungs starting to burn. Guess I gotta learn to suck it up, eh?

Thanks to Kelly Williams for selecting today’s topic “October: Black Cats & Superstitions” for BlogFEST 2012. Kelly, I shared this story with my husband for the first time today and he got a big laugh out of it!

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1 Comment

  1. WOW, I never heard about this superstition. That is wild. If my sister had told me something like that it would have scared living beJesus out of me.



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