Seven Circusy Supersitions

Every profession, including circus, has its own superstitions. They were perhaps based in logic once, but now have become engrained in the lives of performers and have stood the test of time.  The staff here at Smirkus come from a variety of backgrounds, many having also worked with other circuses. We have people who have worked with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, the Big Apple Circus, and Cirque du Soleil, just to name a few. Talking with some of these people, I’ve put together a list of common circus lore! 

Seven Circusy Superstitions

  1. Never sit with your back to the ring: The ring is everything to a circus performer. It is their home, their career and their livelihood. To turn your back on the ring, it to turn your back on your wellbeing. 

    Trouper Ella Sits Looking Into the Ring

    Trouper Ella Sits Looking Into the Ring

  2. Don’t sleep in the ring!
  3. No whistling in the tents: Back in the day, the riggers who hung everything inside the bigtop communicated by whistling. If someone else entered the tent whistling, it could have been misinterpreted as a cue. Fitting in with our nautical theme, this tradition came from sailing ships where riggers often worked before coming to circuses. 
  4. Green costumes are considered bad luck. Somewhere along the line at Smirkus, this superstition, like so many others such as walking on a crack, was put aside which is lucky for us because we have some pretty awesome green costumes! 

    Trouper Sydney in on Fabric

    Trouper Sydney on Fabric

  5. Elephant hair is considered lucky. Joy, one of our concessionaires says that, while it’s lucky to have elephant hair, she’s always heard that it is luckier if you give it to someone else. When she worked at Ringling Brothers, they always would look for the hairs on the floor! 

    Concessionaire Joy and her Cotton Candy!

    Concessionaire Joy and her Cotton Candy!

  6. Always enter the ring with your right foot first. Many performers fall into their own routines and rituals as they tour for months at a time. As every show is different, it can be imperative to have something consistent from show to show. 
  7. Never say goodbye; it’s always “see you down the road.” 

We hope we’ll see YOU down the road! Currently, we’re at the Saratoga Casino & Raceway in Saratoga Springs, NY with our next stop taking us to the Cheshire Fairgrounds in Swanzey, NH!

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2 Responses to Seven Circusy Supersitions

  1. Gary Payne says:

    I love this! I will add one I have heard many times – A BIRD in the Tent is very bad luck!

  2. Josh says:

    Sleeping in the ring is a superstition? That seemed to be normal for Smirkus in the first two decades of it’s lifetime. Does that include napping?

    Green wasn’t worn because way back when, the performers would sweat and the green dye would become damp and let off a poisonous gas (some green dyes contained arsenic).

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