Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ladybug, Ladybug

I discovered a ladybug on arm of the Facilities' receptionist yesterday. She then brought it back to the office and I thought a little research might be fun. Here's what I found:

Ladybug, ladybug
fly away home.
Your house is on fire
and your children will burn.


It is considered good luck if a Ladybug (sometimes you hear them referred to as ladycows or ladybirds) lands on someone's hand or clothing. It needs to fly away of its own will, and the ladybug rhyme must be recited.

There are several interpretations of this old rhyme - that the ladybug was named after Mary, the mother of Jesus ("Our Lady") and that she will punish anyone for nine days who dares harm it. Another story is that, in the Middle Ages, huge swarms of insects were eating up crops. The people prayed to Mary for help--and then ladybugs came and ate the pests. So they called the insect the "beetle of Our Lady." Another interpretation is that this is a rhyme of resurrection and everlasting life, since the central figure is a beetle, one of the world's oldest symbols of the resurrection.

One idea is that the rhyme came from places where hops were grown. Ladybug larvae live on hop vines. But these vines were burned after the harvest. So singers warned the ladybug that her children would burn.

In Austria, people used to ask the ladybug for good weather. In Switzerland, people told their children that human babies were brought by ladybugs. In northern Germany, people counted spots on the backs of ladybugs; fewer than seven meant a big harvest. In Central Europe, they believed that, if a girl caught a ladybug and it crawled across her hand, she would be married within a year.

The ladybug has different names in countries around the world: Flower Lady (China); Water Delivery-Man's Daughter (Iraq); Indra's Cowherd (India); Crop Picker (Africa); Good news (Iran); Lord God's Little Fatty (Switzerland); Vacchette della Madonna (Italy); Creatures of the Good God (France); Cows of the Virgin (France); and Mary's Beetles (Germany).

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