The Chimney Sweep Song and Dance – Not Quite Like Mary Poppins

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Mary_Poppins3One of the best children’s tales involves an impressive song and dance number performed by a group of chimney sweeps. Dick Van  Dyke and Julie Andrews did a pretty good job showing how dirty the chimney sweep job is, but I can’t guarantee an in-tune song and dance number.

You may ask me to leave before the job is finished if I break out into song and dance. The rooftop acrobatics were a bit on the dangerous side as well. As unusual as this topic is, today I’m going to point out several of the myths surrounding chimney sweeps in Mary Poppins, and I’ll discuss some of the actual lore behind my profession.

Many chimney sweep myths have been passed down through the ages. Some cultures believe the chimney sweep is a sign of good luck. Several legends go so far as to say they are the ultimate bringer of good luck. Old European folklore says that if a bride receives a kiss on the cheek from a chimney sweep on her wedding day she will have a very blessed and happy marriage.

There’s also the story of the chimney sweep who fell from the rooftop of an apartment building and was dangling from the guttering by one foot. A lovely woman opened her window and pulled him inside her home to safety. They married and lived happily ever after.

Most people believe that these chimney sweep myths originated during the reign of King George of England. He was riding astride a horse when a dog startled the animal, which threw King George to the ground. A chimney sweep stepped up, took hold of the horse’s reigns, and calmed him. The king then declared that chimney sweeps should be regarded as lucky.

A Symbol of Prestige

The chimney has held a significant place in architecture for thousands of years. Castles often boasted a fireplace and chimney in every guest room as well as heavily visited areas. They provided a great deal of warmth in an era where most windows were simply open holes in the wall with no glass to protect the inhabitants. Of course wooden shutters were put into place, but it was still very drafty.

The ever-growing popularity of the fireplace and chimney made people realize that they absolutely had to be cleaned from time to time. I’m not quite sure if you can claim good luck if you have to call a chimney sweep to inspect a faulty chimney or otherwise invite him to your home. I guess we can always hope so.

the mood for romance. If you’ve kept your chimney clean and inspected at least once per year, you won’t even find soot in your wine or food.

I hope this blog post has been both educational and entertaining. I know chimney sweeps have had their ups and downs throughout history, but you never really realize just how dirty the job is until you get into it. One constant always rings true when talking about chimneys – they must always be cleaned and maintained for proper functionality.

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