Urban Legends, Old Wives’ Tales, and Superstitions from North America

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In this episode we are talking about interesting, funny, and strange beliefs in North American culture. Robin and Maura share a couple scary stories that they have known since they were kids. They also review popular old wives’ tales like, An apple a day keeps the doctor away. They also talk about some superstitions that some people still believe in today, including Robin! This is a great episode is you are interested in learning more about North American culture.

Maura Robin btn_lipservice.gif

Robin: The first thing we’re going to talk about today is something called an urban legend or an urban myth.
Maura: Yes, so we’re definitely talking about culture today, and after we talk about urban legends or urban myths, we’re going to talk about old wives’ tales.
Robin: Old wives’ tales, indeed. And this is…it’s a similar sort of thing. It deals with myths, once again, and stories.
Maura: And if you don’t know what it is, keep listening and we’re going to explain it.
Robin: Absolutely. And the last thing we’ll talk about today deals with superstitions. It’s a big word, superstitions.
Maura: Right, so some general superstitions that most Canadians know about and maybe some believe in a little bit.
Robin: Absolutely.
Maura: OK, so let’s start with the first topic, which is urban legends or urban myths. So it’s two names for the same thing.
Robin: What is an urban legend or an urban myth?
Maura: An urban legend is a modern story that’s a scary story or a horror story. Most of them are scary and you usually hear about them from friends. So a friend tells another friend a story, this scary story, and you don’t know where it started, you don’t know where the story came from.

Expression included from this episode in Lipservice:

urban legend urban myth
old wives’ tales superstitions
around the campfire do the talking
all by herself widespread
classic An apple a day keeps the doctor away
cure Swallowed gum will stay in your stomach for 7 years
Don’t cross your eyes or they’ll stay like that The 5- or 10-second rule
If you hear ringing in your ears that means that someone is talking about you
That’s just an old wives’ tale superstitutions
If a black cat crosses your path it means bad luck Breaking a mirror brings 7 years of bad luck
the number 13 to creep out
knock on wood jinx

Podcast/ Lipservice: Culips ESL Podcast, Photo: Jens Dahlin

Posted in Chatterbox


  1. rholata@sendme.cz' Robert Holata says:

    Hi guys,
    I´d like to thank you for this interesting topic of yours. I learnt alot and found out there´re many identical or similar superstitions in our country, ( I live in Czech Republic.) but those about food which fell down to the ground or about the chewing gum are new to me and they put a smile on my face. I´m gonna give you one superstition known in my country as well. We believe that a chimneysweeper brings luck, but you must touch the button on your clothes as soon as you see him.
    Yours member,
    B o b. :-)

  2. amrwady1972@hotmail.com' Amr Wady says:

    Hello guys,

    I want to thank you for this episode of ” Urban legends” and in Egypt, We have a superstition like you have to touch wood if you afraid of someone envy you, Lol

    Have a ball,

  3. Maura says:

    Thanks for your feedback! I am glad you liked this episode. I had a lot of fun recording it too.

    Robert, that is so funny about the chimney sweeper! I wonder how that superstition started.

  4. kmazou@yahoo.fr' abdoul says:

    I love this episode very interesting. in my country Cameroun, we believe in many superstitutions. we call that grand mother histories ie: we must not cutt our hairs in the night.
    we must not look in the mirror in the night etc

    i’m really big in listening to your program

    thanks a lot, please keep going on!!!

  5. cjamming@netscape.net' MWS LINC 3 says:

    This was a life saver today Friday, May 13th. I was teaching my students (Level 3, Markham South Welcome Centre, Ontario) about superstitions in North America and wanted to let them hear stories reflective of North America. They shared their native tales and then listened to your podcast. Thanks!


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