19th-Century Bridal Superstitions for Getting Married and Staying Happy

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Dr. Ray Vaughn Pierce, who had facilities in Buffalo, New York, and London, became famous for his mail-order medicines. Things like "Dr. Pierce's Golden Medical Discovery Pills," "Dr. Pierce's Favorite Prescription Tablets," and "Dr. Pierce's Pleasant Pellets" may sound laughable now, but the opium-laced pills—which he peddled as cures for all sorts of "feminine ailments" like hysteria, fatigue, and menstruation pains—were hugely popular.

It wasn't just the addictive substances that buoyed sales of Dr. Pierce's wares, though; he was also a marketing innovator. In addition to billboards and broadsides, he published testimonial pamphlets, the most famous of which, The People's Common Sense Medical Adviser, sold a million copies. One such advertorial concerned itself—interspersed among the cure-all claims—with dream interpretations and bridal superstitions.

How To Tell If There's A Wedding Brewing

At the table, if two spoons are accidentally put down together, there will soon be a wedding in the family.

If, by chance, an unmarried woman or a bachelor be placed between a married couple at supper, that person will soon become engaged.

A strange white pigeon flying near a house is a sign that someone there will be married within a year.

To see a caged bird in one's dream indicates a forthcoming wedding.

To Take Matters Into Your Own Hands

Sometimes a gal's gotta know what her marriage prospects are, and she just can't wait for a strange white pigeon. That's where the following comes into play.

She must find a green pea-pod with exactly nine peas in it, and hang it over the door of a room or entry-way without letting anybody know about it; she must then watch the door and see who goes through first. If it is an unmarried young man, or a bachelor, she will positively be married before the current crop of peas is disposed of; if it is a woman, she will have to sigh in single-blessedness another year.

You're Getting Married! But First, Watch Your Step

This one requires a little background knowledge: "Calling of the banns" refers to a practice of publicly declaring your intention to be wed.

Between the calling of the banns and the wedding, the spirits of evil and envy are said to have great power. Therefore at this time the engaged couple should guard against a lovers' quarrel, exercise caution when going down stairs, not to stumble, and they should not be photographed together.

The first two sound like perfectly solid advice for engagements and beyond. But that last suggestion might have to be amended for any 21st Century editions of Dream Book Bridal Superstitions.

It's the Big Day

But beware! You may think it's all bouquet tosses and and wedded bliss from here on out, but there's still plenty that can go wrong.

On no account should a bride or a bridegroom be handed a telegram on the way to church.

The bride must be careful when leaving the church to put her right foot first. It is deemed most unfortunate for a bride to make the first step into the new world with the left foot.

To have an unequal number of guests at the wedding breakfast or supper is unlucky.

When to tie the knot

Even before you start following the preceding instructions to a tee, you should ensure that you pick a particularly auspicious date. Here's a helpful guide.

January—If married in January, the wife will live longer than her husband.

February—In February, domestic happiness will prevail.

March—In March, the couple will eventually make their home abroad.

April—The April bride very decidedly rules the roost.

May—May is considered unlucky for weddings.

June—June is an exceptionally lucky month and promises lasting love to its bridal couples.

July—July marriages are apt to be crisscrossed with sunshine and shadow.

August—August is noted for its ideally mated couples.

September—September marriages run a smooth, congenial course.

October—October, either love or money will be lacking in the future for those who join hands this month.

November—November promises prosperity.

December—December a life full of love.

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Win a Trip to Any National Park By Instagramming Your Travels
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If you're planning out your summer vacation, make sure to add a few national parks to your itinerary. Every time you share your travels on Instagram, you can increase your chances of winning a VIP trip for two to the national park of your choice.

The National Park Foundation is hosting its "Pic Your Park" sweepstakes now through September 28. To participate, post your selfies from visits to National Park System (NPS) properties on Instagram using the hashtag #PicYourParkContest and a geotag of the location. Making the trek to multiple parks increases your points, with less-visited parks in the system having the highest value. During certain months, the point values of some sites are doubled. You can find a list of participating properties and a schedule of boost periods here.

Following the contest run, the National Park Foundation will decide a winner based on most points earned. The grand prize is a three-day, two-night trip for the winner and a guest to any NPS property within the contiguous U.S. Round-trip airfare and hotel lodging are included. The reward also comes with a 30-day lease of a car from Subaru, the contest's sponsor.

The contest is already underway, with a leader board on the website keeping track of the competition. If you're looking to catch up, this national parks road trip route isn't a bad place to start.

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15 Dad Facts for Father's Day
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Gather 'round the grill and toast Dad for Father's Day—the national holiday so awesome that Americans have celebrated it for more than a century. Here are 15 Dad facts you can wow him with today.

1. Halsey Taylor invented the drinking fountain in 1912 as a tribute to his father, who succumbed to typhoid fever after drinking from a contaminated public water supply in 1896.

2. George Washington, the celebrated father of our country, had no children of his own. A 2004 study suggested that a type of tuberculosis that Washington contracted in childhood may have rendered him sterile. He did adopt the two children from Martha Custis's first marriage.

3. In Thailand, the king's birthday also serves as National Father's Day. The celebration includes fireworks, speeches, and acts of charity and honor—the most distinct being the donation of blood and the liberation of captive animals.

4. In 1950, after a Washington Post music critic gave Harry Truman's daughter Margaret's concert a negative review, the president came out swinging: "Some day I hope to meet you," he wrote. "When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!"

5. A.A. Milne created Winnie the Pooh for his son, Christopher Robin. Pooh was based on Robin's teddy bear, Edward, a gift Christopher had received for his first birthday, and on their father/son visits to the London Zoo, where the bear named Winnie was Christopher's favorite. Pooh comes from the name of Christopher's pet swan.

6. Kurt Vonnegut was (for a short time) Geraldo Rivera's father-in-law. Rivera's marriage to Edith Vonnegut ended in 1974 because of his womanizing. Her ever-protective father was quoted as saying, "If I see Gerry again, I'll spit in his face." He also included an unflattering character named Jerry Rivers (a chauffeur) in a few of his books.

7. Andre Agassi's father represented Iran in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics as a boxer.

8. Charlemagne, the 8th-century king of the Franks, united much of Western Europe through military campaigns and has been called the "king and father of Europe" [PDF]. Charlemagne was also a devoted dad to about 18 children, and today, most Europeans may be able to claim Charlemagne as their ancestor.

9. The voice of Papa Smurf, Don Messick, also provided the voice of Scooby-Doo, Ranger Smith on Yogi Bear, and Astro and RUDI on The Jetsons.

10. In 2001, Yuri Usachev, cosmonaut and commander of the International Space Station, received a talking picture frame from his 12-year-old daughter while in orbit. The gift was made possible by RadioShack, which filmed the presentation of the gift for a TV commercial.

11. The only father-daughter collaboration to hit the top spot on the Billboard pop music chart was the 1967 hit single "Something Stupid" by Frank & Nancy Sinatra.

12. In the underwater world of the seahorse, it's the male that gets to carry the eggs and birth the babies.

13. If show creator/producer Sherwood Schwartz had gotten his way, Gene Hackman would have portrayed the role of father Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch.

14. The Stevie Wonder song "Isn't She Lovely" is about his newborn daughter, Aisha. If you listen closely, you can hear Aisha crying during the song.

15. Dick Hoyt has pushed and pulled his son Rick, who has cerebral palsy, through hundreds of marathons and triathlons. Rick cannot speak, but using a custom-designed computer he has been able to communicate. They ran their first five-mile race together when Rick was in high school. When they were done, Rick sent his father this message: "Dad, when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!"

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