Saints, superstitions, and selling houses

9 Oct

Over three years after buying my first home, I’ve reached another milestone – selling. I moved out of my parents’ house into a small 2 bedroom condo with Danny in August of 2009 – right before Ken proposed. (Had I known what was coming, I probably would have stayed where I was and saved for a wedding, or a different place. Bygones.) It’s always a bittersweet feeling, walking through the empty rooms of a place you called home, even if the new place is better, and even though you didn’t live there very long. It’s still the first place I owned, the place we started living in as a family, the place Danny started kindergarten from. The place that was so conveniently close to the grocery store, my aunt, and some really awesome neighbors. Still, it was too far from Ken’s job and family, and too small for three people. Especially when one of those people owns a large collection of toys. (Ken, not Danny.)

I met with the realtor, cleaned up the place, did a final walkthrough. I’ll miss it, but it’s time to move on. So now the question is, how do we sell it quickly?

This is what Google Image search came up with. I like it.

Both Ken and I were raised Catholic, and so we’re both familiar with the tradition of burying a statue of St. Joseph, upside down, in the yard of a house you’re trying to sell. I don’t know how I know this. I don’t remember anyone explaining this to me. It’s one of those things you just absorb, like so many other traditions.

In fact, the seller of our current house called soon after we bought it and asked if he could come dig up the front yard, because he had buried Joseph there. Unfortunately, upon arrival, he couldn’t remember where exactly Joseph was, and so left without excavating him. He’s still lurking, somewhere in our yard. (Joseph, that is. Not the seller.)

Hopefully, his current position will work for the condo. The HOA would probably frown upon us digging up a common area, and we don’t have any flowerboxes or potted plants to hide him in. I joked that I would hang him, upside down, from the kitchen ceiling fan, an idea that has yet to gain support.

That got me thinking, though. How do these things get started in the first place? Who was the first person to bury St Joseph outside a house they were trying to sell? Did they bury him upside down the first time, or did they figure that part out later? “Huh… tent/hut/cabin/whatever didn’t sell… Better bury him upside down!!

St Fiacre. With a hoe. The jokes, they write themselves.

And the same with other saintly traditions. As Catholics, there’s patron saints for everything. St Thomas More is the patron saint of lawyers, which makes sense since he was one. St Jude is lost causes “because his New Testament letter stresses that the faithful should persevere in the environment of harsh, difficult circumstances, just as their forefathers had done before them,” according to catholic websites.  The assignment seems to be based on an aspect of the saint’s life. But it gets more random- St Fiacre is the patron saint of both venereal diseases and cabdrivers, among other things, including gardening and boxmakers. I don’t know if he had one sponsorship and then the other, or if he was a venereally diseased cabdriver and boxmaker who gardened in his spare time, or if whoever is in charge of assigning these things just has a giant dartboard of saints. “We need someone for this, hurry!” Bam! Now you’re the patron saint of VD. You’re welcome.

But I do understand, psychologically, why the traditions continue. It’s called confirmation bias. You don’t remember all the times St Anthony didn’t help you find your car keys, but you do remember when you lost your id badge at the Taste of Chicago that would be expensive to replace and you and your friend  prayed to St Anthony before heading to the lost and found where someone DID turn in your badge, even though that had more to do with the fact that you had the same name as the Mayor’s chief of staff than St. Anthony (what up, other Sheila.).

So. Burying St Joseph upside down probably doesn’t do anything. But, even confirmation bias is occasionally confirmed. Obviously St Joseph worked for the prior owners of our house, or he wouldn’t still be in our yard.

So, if you’re looking at condo listings in the Chicagoland area, and you see St Joseph hanging from a ceiling fan, he’s trying to point you to a really good deal. With hardwood floors, in unit washer and dryer, central a/c, and various other amenities.

One Response to “Saints, superstitions, and selling houses”

  1. Nancy Caddigan October 10, 2012 at 1:36 am #

    We have a St Joe statue that has been used multiple time and for different families. Whatever works!

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