9 Old Wives’ Tales That Are Actually Rooted in Truth

Old wives' tales...more like old wives' truths.

Published June 8, 2023

Wives really could gab if the number of old wives' tales is anything to go off of. Old wives' tales are superstitious sayings and beliefs that people of the past used in lieu of research-based facts. With technology as developed as it is, we've actually been able to put some of these old wives' tales to the test. And shockingly, a number of them turned out to be true.

Leaves Can Predict When It's Going to Rain


A common old wives' tale centered on the idea that when you can see the silver sides of leaves, rain is on the way. Incredibly, this is something you can see in action when precipitation's close by.

While not every type of vegetation with leaves will flip their leaves to show the undersides when rain's coming, deciduous trees will turn theirs in response to the increased humidity in the air. For many others, the humidity in the air will soften the leaves so much that they'll hang and be easily flipped over by the wind.

Chewing Tobacco Can (Sort of) Cure Your Bee Sting


If you grew up with old school parents, then chances are you've had a dab of wet tobacco put on a bee sting or two. What seems like a backwoods thing to do is actually rooted in science. Nicotine, which is found in tobacco, has analgesic properties.

Analgesics are compounds that relieve pain, and you'll often see it listed on antibiotic creams and sprays as an additive to help with the burning feeling. Because of the pain-relieving properties, tobacco can help soothe that incessant throbbing brought on by a bee sting.

Lots of Heartburn During Pregnancy? You Might Have a Hairy Baby


For years, people assured expecting parents that their terrible heartburn would mean that their baby was going to have a head full of hair. Although the scientific reasoning for why this happens hasn't been investigated, there was a 2006 study conducted which explored whether or not pregnant people who had heartburn gave birth to hairy babies. Turns out, a higher number of people who reported bad heartburn did have babies with a lot more hair than those that didn't.

So, give scientists a few more years and they'll be sure to crack the code on why exactly this is.

Tea Bags Really Can Soothe Your Sunburns


Instead of sitting and suffering through the first few days after a sunburn, you can put a few wet tea bags directly on your burns. According to Women's Health, the tannins within tea have anti-inflammatory properties which can work to soothe the prickly ache that comes with a sunburn. Granted, some tea leaves aren't going to suddenly wipe your burn away in a few hours, but it can be a natural way to get some immediate relief.

Wait Until After Blackberry Winter to Plant


Blackberry winter was a phenomenon that emerged back when the Old Farmer's Almanac was the only weather and planting guide that farmers and gardeners could access. The old wives' tale is to wait until after blackberry winter to plant any new vegetation. In reality, blackberry winter is a type of cold snap when you think spring is fully here, but there's actually another frost coming that could kill your baby seedlings.

These blackberry winters usually pop up in later spring (April or May) when the blackberries are starting to bloom. You know they're coming because blackberry canes need a few cold days to start flowering. So when the flowers are out, get the sheets to cover and protect your baby plants.

You Won't Catch a Cold if You Wear a Coat


Okay, coats can't mount up a fight against cold germs from coming your way. But the kernel of truth in this old wives' tale is that cooler temperatures can lower your immune system. So, keeping yourself at a stable, warm temperature in cold weather can help keep your immune system working optimally. A stronger immune system has a much better chance of fighting off cold germs right when they pop up.

And it's important to keep a strong immune system since, according to Northwestern Medicine, "we have more viruses in the environment" in colder temperatures.

Bathing During a Thunderstorm Is a Shocking Choice


If you've got older parents or grandparents, then chances are you were chased out of a shower or bathtub the minute they heard some thunder in the distance. Surprisingly, they weren't being overly dramatic. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you don't do anything (bathing, washing dishes, etc) where you'll come into contact with water when there are thunderstorms around.

With thunder comes lightning, and water is a conductor for lightning. So, should it strike your house, it'll move right through the water and into you.

Old Wives' Tales Bear Some Truth


Superstitions might sound silly to the high-falutin' internet teens today, but some old wives' tales can be backed up by science. Although people might not have been able to explain why they worked at the time, they could see the effects with their own eyes.

And turns out - they were right. So, next time you get warned by an elder about something that doesn't make sense, it's best to listen to them just in case they're right all along.

9 Old Wives’ Tales That Are Actually Rooted in Truth