Etiquette & superstition: umbrellas

On our last night in New Orleans, Benny and I found ourselves in a bar in the Tremé neighborhood when someone thrust a parasol into my hand and strongly urged me to parade about with some other female patrons. I did the best I could, but I had no idea what I was doing and was scared the entire time that I was doing it wrong. Was I allowed to lower the umbrella, or bounce it up and down, or could I only twirl it? Could I pass it off to somebody else? Could I give it to a guy? Was I supposed to dance or just sort of strut around? I was immensely relieved when the whole thing was over. Our guide told me that I was taking all of this much too seriously.

ETIQUETTE: The underlying idea of most umbrella etiquette is that you should not be a space hog. If you’re carrying a full-sized umbrella and not using it to shield you from the elements, keep it close and parallel to your body. None of this “me ol’ bamboo” tucking it under your arm at a jaunty angle or twirling it or any such nonsense if you’re in a populated area.

When you are using your umbrella and another person with an umbrella approaches you, the taller person should raise their umbrella to pass. If both people are of similar height, the person with the larger umbrella should be the one to raise it.

SUPERSTITION: I don’t have to bring up the opening umbrellas inside thing, do I? No? Thank you. Let’s all agree that we know that one and move on.

Don’t put an umbrella on a table, on a bed, or give one as a gift. All unlucky, and as we’ve mentioned before, the umbrella gift will sever a relationship. If you drop your umbrella while you are walking, ask someone else to pick it up. If you pick it up yourself, you will soon find yourself in an argument. The fact that you have dropped your umbrella either means that you will soon meet a friend or you will soon lose your faculties.


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