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A B C D E F G H I J K L M
N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Cuckoo

(See Mystical WWW Special Days). Generally seen as a lucky bird the first call of the cuckoo indicates that spring has arrived with the event traditionally reported in 'The Times' (UK) newspaper. Whatever state your health is in a the time of hearing the call it is reputed that you will remain this way all year and should make a wish which is supposed to always come true. Since ancient times the call of the cuckoo is said to have many meanings. If you are young then the number of times it calls indicates the time you will marry; if you are already married it indicates the arrival of your next child; and if old, it will indicate how much longer you  have to live. Kept so busy, it is also believed that this is the reason why the cuckoo will not have time to build a nest and will therefore place its eggs in the nest of surrogate parents.

In Wales (UK) it is supposed to be unlucky to hear the first call before April 6, and if heard on April 28 the following year will be a prosperous one, whilst in England (UK) it is supposed to be unlucky to hear it when it bed but an omen of good fortune if heard outdoors especially if you have money in your pocket (as you are never supposed to fall on hard times again) or standing on grass. On hearing the bird the money should be taken out of the pocket and spat on according to old Welsh (UK) folklore. Hearing the bird after August in some European countries is considered unlucky as this is when the bird should have left for warmer climates; if heard the following year will be an unlucky one. When heard from the right of you the call is said to indicate good luck for the next year, with the reverse being true from the left, especially if heard whilst looking at the floor. In Scotland (UK) the number of calls is traditionally thought to indicate the number of  years you have left to live.

If you are a man, then you should remove a shoe when you hear the call of the cuckoo and look inside. If you find a hair, this will relate to the colour of hair that your future partner will have. If you are a woman, the number of notes made in the bird song will indicate how many years you must wait until you will marry. The same is true for an older person, as  the number of whole cuckoo calls is reputed to indicate the number of years the person has left to live.

Here is a poem by Andrew Young about the much loved cuckoo; 

‘When coltsfoot withers and begins to wear
Long silver locks instead of hair,
And fat red catkins from black poplars fall
And on the ground like caterpillars crawl,
And bracken lifts up slender arms and wrists
And stretches them, unfolding sleepy fists,
The cuckoos in a few well-chosen words
Tell they give Easter eggs to the small birds.’

‘Cuckoo-spit’ is a white frothy substance often found on plants used by certain insects as a form of cocoon (a temporary home). ‘Cuckoo buds’ are small buttercup buds. The cuckoo has nothing directly to do with the plants. The Latin term ‘Cuckold’ can be translated as a description of a ‘deceived husband’, which perhaps relates to the nesting habit of the bird. Many people once believed that the cuckoo turned into a hawk and hibernated inside hills before migration was understood.