From its earliest beginnings, traditions and superstitions have surrounded the circus. Here are some of the most widely known and often practiced beliefs.

• Circus bands play John Phillip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" in emergency situations only. The march is played as a warning signal to circus workers that something is wrong.

• Never count the audience.

• Accidents always happen in threes.

• Always enter the ring with your right foot first.

• Never whistle in the dressing room.

• Boots, shoes and slippers should never be seen in a trunk tray or on a dressing table.

• Cannon-back (rounded top) tunnels are bad luck.

• Never sleep inside the Big Top. (This belief comes from the days when the raised ring was made of dirt and people were afraid it might collapse on them.)

• In pictures, elephants must always have their trunks up.

• Hair from the tail of an elephant is good luck.

• Never eat peanuts in the dressing room.

• Never look back during the circus parade.

• Never move a wardrobe trunk once it has been put into place; moving it means that the performer (owner of that trunk) will be leaving the show.

• Never sit on the circus ring facing out.

• Peacock feathers are bad luck.


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