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.
Copyright © 2001 Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, 60637
(773) 684.1414 --- http://www.msichicago.org