When someone decides they want to have children, odds are they want to welcome a new baby into their life sooner, rather than later. It’s been a longstanding tradition for many people to look for “mother’s little helper” when it comes to increasing their chances of conception.
The survival of humanity as a species is dependent on our ability to procreate. It’s no wonder that ceremonies, myths, and superstitions have played such a big hand in fertility. From ancient times to today, many people have practiced a variety of traditions, all in the name of bringing the next generation into the world.
Fertility practices can be as simple as praying to become pregnant, one of the less involved rituals that people have practiced for years in hopes of carrying on their family name. Simple rituals can include something as simple as kissing under the mistletoe or painting eggs. More complicated ones can involve elaborate dances, natural phenomenon, and even animal sacrifices.
Some of these practices went away a long time ago, while other people still believe in them today, trying them out in the hopes of expanding their families. Here are 15 amazing and interesting fertility rituals, myths, and traditions. You may even want to try some of them out, because you never know.
15 Nicole Kidman And The Australian Waterfall
Down under for a holiday? Consider a visit to the waterfalls of Kunurra, located in Western Australia. It’s been reported that back in 2008, when filming the movie Australia, Nicole Kidman, and some other crew members of the film, decided to cool off with a swim in the waterfall. Shortly after this dip, Kidman proudly announced her unexpected pregnancy at 41 years of age, of her child Sunday Rose. Apparently six other children were conceived by crew members from the film in the time around their swim. Kidman herself commented that there must be something mystical and magical in the waters. She told The Australian Women’s Weekly, “I never thought that I would get pregnant and give birth to a child but it happened on this movie.” Nicole has also commented that the water can now be called “the fertility waters”.
14 Meaty Men
This sounds like a myth created by a man who was trying to get a little something for himself before the baby arrived. Some suggest that the amount of protein contained in semen can increase a woman’s likelihood of conception. While there is a lot of protein in a man’s seed, it isn’t going to make you fertile Myrtle, sorry fellas. This myth is just not true, although there may be some who swear by it, I’m guessing they’re all men. There are other foods that are connected fertility, so stick to a healthy diet of leafy greens, grains, legumes, fish, pre-natal vitamins and a lot of water. Water in particular helps thin out your cervical mucus which might make it easier for sperm to reach your egg. It’s also suggested that cutting down on alcohol and caffeine makes it easier to conceive.
13 Underwear On The Roof
The Yansi people of the Congo believed that your underwear might be able to help you with your fertility. The Yansi people practiced a local custom of throwing their underwear onto the roof of their home during a waning moon, and not taking it off the roof until there was a new moon. If you don’t feel like throwing your knickers on your roof for your neighbors to see, or if you live in a big building where they’re probably going to frown on that, maybe consider talking to your man about his body temperature below the belt. While the switch from briefs to boxers may not be necessary, the climate in his trousers needs to be such that the temperature of his testes must be lower than his core body temperature.
12 Miracle Chair
There is a chair located in Naples, Italy, that is believed to be owned by Saint Maria Francesca of the Five Wounds of Jesus. This chair is said to have very special properties, with thousands of women lining up in order to sit in the chair, and be blessed in the ways of fertility. Whether it works or not, the proof is literally on the walls around it, as there are pictures of the babies born shortly after these women took a seat on the mystical chair. Think sitting on a fertility chair is strange, how about a fertility tradition from funerals. In Cantonese funeral tradition, the daughters-in-law of the deceased have covered their abdomens with green cloths (the color associated with spring, growth and fertility) and rubbed their bodies against the coffin to “attract” the procreative power of the person who has just died.
11 Baby Making Crops
Pagan farmers had a fun way of “rotating their crops” if you know what we mean. They would make love with their wives in their freshly plowed fields to make sure that both their land and their women were fertile. The Pagan farmers weren’t the only ones who liked to enjoy a little outdoor sports in the name of the fertility. The master of the land in Rome would also take his wife out and procreate on the ground to make sure that the fields would be productive after planting was complete. For those who want a fertility experience that doesn’t involve owning farm land, consider visiting The Cerne Abbas Giant, located in Dorset England. For centuries, folklore states that any woman who sleeps on the naked chalk figure will become pregnant shortly after her nap.
10 A Japanese Festival
Fertility isn’t just about the ladies, after all it takes two to tango. In Japan there is a rather unusual festival called Kanamara Matsuri (also known as the“Festival of the Steel Phallus.”). This festival is all about the phallus, with phallus shaped ornaments, keepsakes, and snacks. Ever spring thousands of people get phallic fever as they visit the Kanayama Shrine in Kawasaki Japan, where they pray for virility, relationship harmony, as well as financial and business prosperity. Some participants even dress up as life size penises to enhance their celebration. The festival dates back as far as the 17th Century when prostitutes were said to pray for protections from STIs at the shrine (not joking). Today the festival is a vehicle to raise awareness for safe sex and acts as a fundraiser for HIV prevention.
9 Baby-Making Statues
People often will gift a new mother with flowers to celebrate the arrival of her new child, but what about flowers to increase her chances of fertility? Roman women would pay tribute to the goddess of flowers, named Flora, to help secure fertility of the land and their wombs. Women who were not having luck with conception would often provide an offering of flowers at Bona Dea’s temple on Aventine Hill. While Paris is often known as the city of love, and art, it is also known for fertility traditions. Victor Noir’s statue, which is located at Pere Lachaise Cemetery, is believed to increase a woman’s fertility. When you visit, simply kiss the statue on the lips and place a single flower into his upturned hat. Oh, and don’t forget to rub his pants, that’s part of the ritual.
8 A Bottle Of Water A Day
Water is connected to life. Humans are 50 to 65 percent water, and so our connection to water is vital for our survival, so it only makes sense that a number of fertility traditions center around water. During a Bris (a ceremonial circumcision), a chair was left out to save a place for the prophet Elijah with a cup of water left under it. After the ceremony had been completed, it was believed that barren women would drink this glass of water, hoping that it would increase their chances of conception. In the Swiss village of Ettingen, men would cover themselves in beech brushwood, so they would look like forest spirits, and then grab fellow local women and dip them into a fountain well (like pens) to increase everyone’s fertility.
7 Ancient Stones
Maybe you have a bucket list trip planned before you begin trying for a baby. If you find yourself in England, or even Florida, you might want to consider some pretty specific sightseeing while you tour. Mên-an-Tol (which is Cornish for Men an Toll) is a small formation of standing rocks, located in Cornwall, United Kingdom. Locals call it the "Crick Stone." The legend of this stone goes back in history nearly 4,500 years. Legend has it that any woman who passes through the stone seven times will become pregnant shortly after. For those who aren’t bound for English travel, you may want to consider a stop off on your way to Disney Land. There are two totems located within the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum in Orlando that originate from the Baule Tribe (from the Ivory Coast). Eight staff members of the museum found themselves expecting after simply touching the statue’s head. Since that time several other women have travelled to Florida to test out the legend.
6 Sweet Potatoes
Perhaps the increase in multiples in our population has more to do with the popularity of sweet potato fries and less to do with IVF and hormone therapy? I’m guessing not, however yams have been connected to twins. Researchers were curious about why an African Village called Igbo-Ora was known for having one of the highest rates of multiple births (twins specifically) in the entire world. After some investigation the only theory that the researchers came up with was yam consumption. Apparently members of this tribe ate a lot of yams. One study completed by a Yale University student has linked yams to fertility, but no significant follow-up has been completed to assess its validity. It might not hurt to order a side order of sweet potato fries the next time you’re out, just in case!
5 The Horner Myth
We can’t help but think about that famous nursery rhyme Little Jack Horner when learning about this fertility myth. People are in the practice of sticking their thumbs into the Weeping Column, in Turkey, at the Hagia Sophia Museum. This historic location was once a church, then it became a mosque, and is now today a museum. Within the museum is a sacred column that weeps holy water, often described as the tears of Virgin Mary. Women who want to up their fertility game can place their thumb inside a particular hole and then rotate it as close to 360 degrees as they can. It’s believed since their thumb is blessed by this sacred water, their luck will improve for conception. For those who are looking for another wish, the ritual can be completed for other things, such as for curing illness, as it is believed to also contain healing properties.
4 Splish Splash
We water our plants to help them grow and produce seedlings, so why not do the same for people? Every Easter in Holloko, Hungary, there is a tradition where young men in costume throw buckets of water over young women. This pre-Christina fertility ritual is the wet t-shirt contest of traditions known as the “Watering of the Girls.” This dates back to the 2nd Century and is a festival which breaks out into an enormous water fight, with the women getting the majority of the soakers. It is believed that this cleansing provides the women with the gift of fertility. To participate, women in traditional clothes go to the street, awaiting local boys to throw buckets of water on them while they run by. Sounds like it might get cold. If you want to participate, we’d suggest bringing a towel.
3 Smell The Flowers
Beauty isn’t the only reason you see so many people admiring the cherry blossoms in the early spring, it also has something to do with fertility traditions. So take some time this spring and literally smell the flowers, it might just up your chances of conceiving this year. Cherries are often a symbol of fertility, merrymaking, and a festive good time; all things necessary for a happy family life. As Japan’s national flower, they represent beauty, courtesy and modesty. In ancient China, the cherry was seen as a symbol of immortality. Cherry wood was also believed to keep evil spirits at bay, and many people in China would place cherry branches over their doors on New Year’s Day and carve cherry statues to stand at guard in front of their homes.
2 The Northern Lights
For some reason a particular episode of the TV show Northern Exposure comes to mind whenever I think about Aurora Borealis (AKA The Northern Lights). In this episode a number of tourists show up in hope of conceiving because of the mystical magic of the Northern Lights. This wasn’t made up for TV, it’s a real thing. The Icelandic tourist industry has had a major increase in visitors over recent years, and one of the larger increases comes from tourists from China and Japan. The reason for their trip, beyond enjoying the nature and culture, is to experience the Northern Lights. Myths from both China and Japan believe that the Northern Lights will help increase fertility, and that if a child is conceived under the Northern Lights it brings the child a life of luck and happiness.
1 A Hot Coal Walk
Ever heard of a hot coal walk? The good news here, it’s not the woman who needs to do it, her husband does, but there’s another catch, he needs to carry his bride over burning coals. This old Chinese tradition had the husband carrying his blushing bride over fiery coals when they first entered their marital home to ensure future fertility, but better hope he doesn’t drop her. A hot walk not your bag? What about a fancy meal? Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis, who wrote the Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism says that a part of the ancient Kabbalah tradition was eating rubies to increase your fertility. You have to wonder if after Madonna began practicing Kabbalah she started dining at “Ruby Tuesdays” in the spirit of fertility, youth, and longevity!