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Pins and Needles

It is common practice, on leaving a funeral to stick a pin in the gate post of the cemetery or burial ground through which the corpse had passed. Similarly a pin or a small cluster of pins can be stuck in the doorway through which an injured person has passed. Undertakers often carry with them black pins and quoting from the British publication Notes and Queries, "The undertaker promised to stick half-a-dozen black pins in the gate post of the meadow through which the funeral cortege passed. He tells me he himself did so, and thus the path was not made common."

Pins, in a similar fashion, can be understood to "pick-up" or acquire qualities from persons or objects with which they come in contact. Again, quoting from Notes and Queries, "A bride, on her return from church, is often robbed of all the pins about her dress by the single women present, from the belief that whoever possesses one of them will be married in the course of a year." and again, this time quoting from the Gallovidian Encyclopedia, "A dressmaker always keeps the pins she uses when making a wedding-dress, and gives them to her friends for use in picking out horses before betting in a horse-race. Or, similarly, pins employed on a corpse for any purpose are never used again, but are always deposited in the coffin and buried with the dead body. A variation of this practice is that often a small bowl is placed on the chest of the deceased in which those coming to 'view the corpse' are allowed to place pins.

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