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Take Mirror Off Wall During Lightning Storm

CINQUERA, El Salvador- “Did you see why they did that?” “Did what?” “Did you see that they took the mirror off the wall because of the lightning?” It was true, as soon as lightning struck and the rains began pouring down all the mirrors in the little house in rural El Salvador were removed from [...]

CINQUERA, El Salvador- “Did you see why they did that?”

“Did what?”

“Did you see that they took the mirror off the wall because of the lightning?”

It was true, as soon as lightning struck and the rains began pouring down all the mirrors in the little house in rural El Salvador were removed from the walls and placed face down upon nearby chairs.

The people here say that mirrors attract lightning. To make them impotent, you must remove them from the walls.

My cousin was giving me another lesson in the nuances of Salvadoran culture. I looked at him doubtfully.

I looked over to one of the girls who grew up in the house, “Is this true?”

“Siiiiii,” she replied as she ran to remove another mirror.

I continued on my skeptical path. “Have you ever known of a house that has ever gotten hit by lightning because the people did not take down the mirrors?”

The girl thought for a moment. “No,” she said, “I do this because my mother always told me to take down the mirrors whenever it rains.”

“Has your mother ever known of a house that got hit by lightning because the people did not take down the mirrors?”

I am unsure what I was trying to get at.

“I don’t know,” the girl admitted, “but I don’t think so.”

“Is this because people always remove the mirrors when it rains so no houses ever have mirrors up to be hit?”

We called it a draw.

Culture, tradition does not need to make sense, it does not need to be provable to be pertinent. The patterns of culture, tradition are perhaps the forces of human action that are passed down through the ages to give us a feeling of security, comfort, in circumstances in which we have no control. The feeling of “at least doing something” calms the nerves of the human animal.

No questions are asked. It is the feeling of security rather than the logic that lends importance to such traditions.

So in El Salvador people take mirrors off the wall when it rains to prevent lightning from hitting their homes.

What else can you do?

Take Mirror Off Wall During Lightning Storm

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What similar traditions like this do you practice in your culture? What actions do you take without questioning just because your family taught you them? Please comment below.

Filed under: Central America, Culture and Society, El Salvador, Weather

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3411 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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16 comments… add one

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  • david May 18, 2010, 8:46 pm

    Interesting. My grandmother does the same thing in South Africa. There’s also the belief that certain people attract lightning. And that it can run in families.

    Regarding your post – what is interesting to me is why this “folk-belief” would persists between different cultures? Is there some historical basis for this?

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com May 19, 2010, 9:54 am

      Perhaps it is because mirrors reflect light and it is easy to make the connect with lightning, or maybe there is something more to it???? How do we know? Haha.

      It is interesting how many beliefs can be cross referenced between cultures all around the world — it really gets your wheels turning to see all of the connections.

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  • Emma August 27, 2010, 12:18 am

    I m from burma, south east asia.
    when we were kids, we used to cover up mirror too when thunder rain come.
    I found out now it doesn’t attract lightnings. I dunno where this belief comes from either..my mom got this practice from her mother i guess..

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com August 27, 2010, 9:21 am

      Hello Emma,

      Thanks for this note. It is interesting what we keep doing just because we were taught it as kids. It seems as if us humans have a special repository for folk knowledge — the little things we learn from our parents — which seems to sit in a vital place in our notions of how we should interact with our world. It takes some work to break the patterns of our parents haha.

      Thanks,

      Wade

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  • Jeanique October 4, 2010, 1:41 am

    I also know of this superstition and I’m from Trinidad in the Caribbean. Though I don’t know if it’s from here or from my Venezuelan grandmother. I actuallt found this discussion because I was trying to prove to my sister she didn’t need to take down the mirrors as it’s storming outside at the moment. We do have alot of these old traditions or superstitions that we stick to though. One such example is a ‘cure’ for hiccups…you put a rolled up piece of wet string on the forehead for it to stop. I know it’s silly but when we’ve tried everything else to get rid of the baby’s hiccups we do go back to the string!

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com October 4, 2010, 11:15 am

      This is a tradition that has been spread all over the world — perhaps there is something to it?

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      • BarleySinger January 27, 2015, 2:09 am

        or it is just a stupid idea. People used to carry flowers in their pockets to try and avoid the bubonic plague (ya, that will stop the microbes)

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  • nelson March 23, 2011, 8:52 pm

    i know a guy who got hit by a lightning becasue of his machete. he waswalking by the beach in the middle of the night and the lightning strucked him and sent him to the hopsital he didnt die but he was close to. the machete reflected light and atracted the lightning so i believed mirrors and other things that reflect light attract lightnings.

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    • BarleySinger January 27, 2015, 2:08 am

      You can also believe you are a BlueJay. Or that people catch colds because of evil spirits (booga booga). That does not make it true.

      The fellow got hit because of random chance, and his location, and probably the fact he had a VERY good metal conductor in his hand. Lightening like all electricity moves through the path of least resistance (like water when you spill it), It is electrons not magic.

      This is also why golf is dangerous in stormy weather, with many well documented cases of famous golfers struck by lightening on camera.

      Also FLYFISHING – most especially with those really long newer graphite poles. Wood is not as good a conductor as carbon, but it still is not side is thundershower weather. Think about it. Graphite is just carbon (a n electrical conductor) and there you are in a FLAT AREA (already the highest thing around so YOU are the easy target). IN order to fish that way there MUST be with enough room around you to move that long pole and not snag anything. To fish with flies, you must pass that pole back and forth over your head repeatedly to set the fly down just right…. while standing near a big (low to the ground) body of water (hey lightening here I am hit me)

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  • Sherlock May 13, 2011, 4:41 am

    The mirrors in rural areas should be covered because it was the case several times that the lightning by passing through the mirror (which is silver or aluminum) broke into pieces and fragments pierced furniture and walls.

    If a person was there, it would have serious injuries.

    Benjamin Franklin himself recommend you cover the mirrors or turn them to the wall. That’s a good practice in the field, but not the city with abundant lightning conductors or lightning rods. I am interested in the subject and want to know if in Europe it is also practiced in the field. Greetings!
    http://conocimientosutilescuriosos.blogspot.com/

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    • Jonathan June 21, 2011, 12:05 pm

      Hi,
      Europe seems to be practised in this, definitely Ireland where I’m from. My grandmother and mother do this as well as turning all photographs toward the wall. not sure of the origins. I know that this is also heard of in Russia, though whether or not it is practised I don’t know.

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  • Sean June 11, 2011, 7:00 pm

    Grew up in southern Arizona. I remember my grandmother always had us cover mirrors or anything reflective during a thunderstorm (..including our huge 70’s stereo/record player). When I asked the reason for this as a child I got a vague answer about “a sickness”. I always figured perhaps it was a preventive measure for seizures. The power would usually cut out and in the evening the only light would be from the lightning.

    During very serious storms I recall we’d be admonished to sit still and not run around, that and to stay away from the outlets.

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  • Phil Anderson March 29, 2012, 11:15 pm

    Well surely religion is the best example. I don’t know anybody who has met God in Walmart or seen Jesus perform a miracle but millions of people believe that stuff. They’ll pray for a sick relative to recover but the relative dies – they still don’t get put off. The bible contradicts science as it is full of physical impossibilities (not surprising as it was written so long ago) but followers believe every word and devote much of their life to it even though they don’t see one scrap of evidence to support the existence of any supernatural beings.

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  • lily July 18, 2012, 5:29 pm

    I am Italian and when i was little my Nonna(grandmother) covered all the mirrors we had with sheets. Even my mom did the same. I was told to stay away from the windows. I asked about what was the reason “covering the mirrors” ( i was born in september thereby a virgo,,,i needed logic reason) i was told so it would not “attract lightning” and lightning would not “come into the house”….So i say…heh if it works….i am for it. i still do it to this day. Both my Nonna and my mom have passed away, but every time there is a storm, i still “cover the mirrors”.

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  • Randy August 8, 2012, 2:27 am

    Im a Cree indian from Canada. In our Culture we cover our mirrors during a lightning storm out of Respect because of a Grandfather Spirit known as the Thunderbird. A Grandfather is a being from the spirit world something like an Angel from Heaven in Christianity. This being is very important to us because the Thunderbird gives us life by bringing rain (water).

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  • Jacinth July 19, 2013, 4:14 am

    Same as here in the Philippines. We covered it with cloth. It was set in my mind. Thats why if I found broken piece of mirron in the way I face it down so it won’t catch a lightning. It was my belief for a very long time but now I was enlightened. It only reflects the light.

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