Why do some older Catholics spit on the ground when u say bad things?


Both my parents and grand parents from both sides spit on the ground if someone says “devil” or “demon” or any evil thing they spit and say “against the brute” just wandering if it’s a family thing or has any history to it? I’ve asked them and they said that there parents use to say and and there parents before them


Perhaps a cultural thing?


As long as they aren’t doing it inside, I can’t see it as a big problem.


MUST be a cultural family thing.


Clearly to show their disapproval.

Sort of reminds me of “Goodfellas” where the Jewish wife of the protagonist pointed out that the Italian wives of her husband’s “business partners” cursed and spat on their own floors when presented with a search warrant by the Feds. “… that never made any sense to me!”


There’s a superstition in a number of cultures that spitting gets rid of demons or wards off the “evil eye”.

It’s not particularly a Catholic thing. It’s a cultural thing from Europe, and was done by both Christians and Jewish people.


I have to say I have never come across this (and if anyone ever tried to do this in my house they’d soon hear from me).

Spitting is disgusting.


What’s their nationality?
I’ve never actually seen anybody do it in real life, but I’ve read it in books, like characters who are Italian or Eastern European.


We’re all Irish


Dunno what to tell you. My Irish relatives (both my own and my in laws) have never done that.


Well what does “against the brute” mean they always say it after they spit and then they make the sign of the cross, my family is very superstitious though we make the sign of the cross if we see an ambulance, cemetery or church I’ve asked them why they do it but they can’t explain it’s just something they’ve grown up doing I can’t find anything on google either


“Against the brute” would probably be “against the devil”.

I’m from an Irish-American family on my ma’s side but they regarded spitting as disgusting and nobody in my mom’s family did that. They would likely cross themselves and say “Jesus, Mary and Joseph help us” or something like that.

I would associate this spitting custom with Italian, Greek, Eastern Europeans.

It’s mentioned in an old hit song by Paul Simon that I liked as a child, “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”. The narrator (Paul Simon) commits some kind of crime with Julio down by the schoolyard, is caught, and then "Mama looked down and spit on the ground every time my name gets mentioned, and Papa said ‘oy, if I get that boy, I’m gonna stick him in the house of detention.’ "


Byzantine Catholics and Orthodox from these groups often spit at the devil when Satan is renounced during baptism. Theses days, it is often omitted or done symbolically in less ethnic parishes in the U. S.


“The mama looked down and spit on the ground
Every time my name gets mentioned
The papa said, ‘oy, if I get that boy
I’m gonna stick him in the house of detention’”

  • Paul Simon


I have read it’s a Jewish custom too, which would fit with Paul Simon being Jewish and having the papa say “oy” in his song.


Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking…


I have wondered for about 40 years exactly what he and Julio were doing that was “against the law” down by the schoolyard. Selling drugs? Having gay sex? Protesting the war?

“And when the radical priest come to get me released, we was all on the cover of Newsweek.” I always figured it was a Berrigan brother.


I always got the impression that Mama saw him violate their daughter.


Our culture is Irish traveller/gypsy most of our traditions are adopted from hundreds of years ago even the language we speak is a mixture Of different languages probably picked up from our history of traveling it’s moslty English and Gaelic tho


I see. The spitting thing is indeed big among traveller populations.

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