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Blog Folklore

Stop the Clock!

One of the more curious of Appalachian customs revolves around death customs. Primarily, why were clocks stopped when someone died? Why were mirrors covered?

These traditions, which indeed have roots in Western Europe, are summed up as such:

  • Clocks were covered to avoid bad luck. Sometimes the clock would stop at exactly the time the ill relative would die, or if they were already deceased before the clock stopped, it was believed they foretold death would not only strike again in the house, within the year, but at precisely the time which the clock stopped at.
  • Mirrors were covered as not to confuse the spirit. It is believed that the spirit slowly rose from the body after death, and once fully outside fleshly form, could become trapped in the reflection instead of moving onward towards heaven.

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