Is it bad luck to put a hat on the bed? Or, maybe growing up your grandparents told you to never put a hat on the bed. I’ve heard stories that putting a hat on the bed can mean that someone will die! That’s pretty serious. Other people say it means trouble in a relationship, a serious argument, or a quarrel in bed. Yikes! In other traditions, it means that one might become pregnant soon. So, what’s the deal? Is it really bad luck? And, if it is, why?
Well, as always, let’s start by looking at why this superstition began before we can see if there’s any truth behind it. And, believe it or not, there’s some pretty interesting history behind this superstition. So, let’s get into it!
Possible Explanations For Why It’s Bad Luck
First things first, most people think this superstition originated because of head lice! That’s right. In times past it probably would have been more difficult to treat head lice quickly down at the local pharmacy, so head lice was just a fact of life for a lot of people. And, nobody wants head lice creepily crawling all over their bed and spreading to everything else in the house. So, the hats don’t go on the bed. Makes sense!
However, this theory is a bit questionable since the lice would have went to bed with that person anyway and probably would have spread regardless. So, it’s a questionable explanation. But, always possible.
Other people say the superstition came because people used to believe that hair had crazy, wild spirits in it that was most likely just static electricity. And, putting a hat on the bed was a sure way to bring evil spirits to bed. Spooky! This is possible as well, I guess. This might be the root cause of the belief of it bring bad luck through these spirits.
But, in reality, hats are pretty gross. They get all sweaty. Hats can get oily from hair pretty quickly. They can smell kind of funky. And, they can even have dandruff, yuck. You get the idea. So, from that perspective alone it’s pretty easy to understand why someone might not want them on the bed. But, it actually gets way, way worse. Keep reading.
Wait, They Used To Make Hats Out Of What?!
I’m getting ready to tell you a story that’s scarier than any hat on the bed. Settle down, get the popcorn and drinks. Or, maybe not it’s kind of gross. A long, long time ago in the not so distant 19th century, hat manufacturers used to use camel fibers to make felt for hats. In order to process the camel fibers, they would use camel urine to moisten the fibers to use them more quickly. Eventually, they started just using human urine instead. You can read more about this here for more information on this topic. It sounds pretty gross, but it was not uncommon. Fulling is a similar process for wool that used human urine back in ancient Roman times if you’re looking for more related reading.
Of course, eventually they discovered that mercury was much easier to use in making hats. But, this led to mercury poisoning and the mad hatter phenomenon. This sadly continued on until the 1940s when they switched to hydrogen peroxide. Even still, in some parts of the world during the hat manufacturing process, there is some mercury exposure.
Anyway, the moral of the story? Hats are made out of pretty gross stuff traditionally. From camel urine to mercury, none of that really makes you want to cuddle up next to it. And, hats are not as easily washed as most other clothing either. It’s pretty easy to understand why people wouldn’t want them in their beds!
What’s With the Cowboy Hat On The Bed Superstition?
So, maybe you’ve heard that it’s only a cowboy hat that’s bad luck to put on the bed. And, let’s be real, cowboy hats are a pretty big deal to cowboys. Without the cowboy hat, you’re just some dude hanging out on a farm. The cowboy hat is an important part of life in the American west not only for identity, but realistically, for shelter from the sun and heat.
There are lots of superstition around cowboy hats, but rodeo riders specifically. It was said they would lose the next rodeo, even be seriously injured, or die if they were to place their hat on a bed. It’s easy to understand how these superstitions came to be since cowboy life was so treacherous in general. And, cowboys need all the luck they can get, especially in the rodeo!
They also believed that the hat must be stored open side up, to catch all the luck around. If the hat was placed with the opening down, all the luck would fall out. And, since it’s pretty hard to place a hat upside down on a bed, so maybe this is related somehow.
Conclusion – Is It Bad Luck To Put A Hat On The Bed?
Ultimately, it’s impossible to know the origin of this superstition. But, in matters of luck and love, it is much easier to just place your hat after a hard day out in the world some place other than the bed! While, there’s no documented case of someone dying after placing a hat on the bed that I can find at least, I can’t find anywhere saying it’s good luck either! So, for this one I’ll have to err on the side of caution.
Do I think that something terrible will happen if you place a hat on the bed? Probably not in the modern times. But, due to history and stigma around this, it seems as if people believe it’s bad luck all around!
Final Verdict: Is it bad luck to put a hat on the bed? Yes.