Magpies: Superstitions and Truths

According to Christianity, magpies symbolize the devil due to one perching on Jesus’ cross during his crucifixion.

There have always been numerous myths and legends surrounding magpies, but where did they originate from?

Have magpies always been considered as a sign of bad luck?

And what is the story behind the famous Magpie Rhyme?

Discover the facts here!

Magpies in Historical Context

Before Christianity, the magpie was regarded as a significant and fascinating bird in mythology and history.

It was believed that magpies represented the devil, as a dove and a magpie both landed on the cross when Jesus was crucified.

While the dove caught Christ’s tears, the magpie did not.

The Church also spread the rumor that the magpie’s tongue contained a drop of the devil’s blood.

This led to the belief that cutting off a magpie’s tongue would release the drop and enable the bird to speak like a human.

The Rhyme

One of the most well-known aspects of magpies is the rhyme that predicts the future based on how many magpies are seen.

It is uncertain whether this myth was genuinely believed or not.

There are various versions of the rhyme, but the most popular version is:

One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret never to be told.
Eight for a wish,
Nine for a kiss,
Ten for a surprise you should be careful not to miss.
Eleven for health,
Twelve for wealth,
Thirteen beware it’s the devil himself.

If you know a different version, please share it in the comments below, and we will add it to the post.


1. What is the superstition behind magpies?

Magpies have long been associated with superstitions, particularly in the UK. The most popular belief is that seeing a single magpie is a sign of bad luck. However, if you see two magpies together, it is considered to be good luck. The rhyme “one for sorrow, two for joy” is often recited when seeing magpies. Some people even believe that they must salute a magpie or say “hello Mr. Magpie” to ward off bad luck.

2. Is there any truth to the superstition?

There is no scientific evidence to support the superstition that seeing a single magpie is a sign of bad luck. However, it is believed that the superstition originated from the fact that magpies are often seen alone, as they are territorial birds. Therefore, seeing a single magpie may have been seen as a reminder of loneliness or sorrow.

3. What is the symbolism behind magpies?

Magpies are often associated with intelligence, communication, and duality. In some cultures, magpies are seen as messengers between the living and the dead. They are also believed to be able to predict the weather, and their black and white feathers are seen as a representation of the balance between light and dark.

4. How can we protect and conserve magpies?

Magpies are an important part of the ecosystem and are known to help control insect populations. However, they are often seen as a nuisance bird and are sometimes hunted or killed. To protect and conserve magpies, it is important to provide them with suitable habitats, such as wooded areas with open spaces. Additionally, it is important to avoid using harmful pesticides or chemicals that can harm magpies and other wildlife.

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