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Some people feel strongly that if snowdrops are picked and brought indoors they bring bad luck, even death, into the house; to grow them in bowls, however, or in the garden, is safe. One explanation was that they ‘look like a corpse in its shroud’ and grow so near the ground that they ‘seem to belong more to the dead than the living’ (Latham, 1878: 52–3); also, like other ill-omened flowers, they are white (Vickery, 1995: 354–5). Variations mentioned in N&Q (8s:7 (1895), 167, 258, 436) are that it is unlucky for a woman to be the first to bring them into the house; that they bring bad luck for the first brood of chickens (cf. primroses); and that they must only be given by a woman to a man, or vice versa. In 1931, another contributor reported: ‘In a London flowershop today—Jan. 29, 1931—I asked for some snowdrops. The assistant replied: “No, sir, we are not allowed to sell them.” I expressed surprise, and was told that Mr —– (presumably the proprietor of the shop) thinks them unlucky’ (N&Q 160 (1931), 100).

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