File under: Things you never forget from childhood.

When I was 8 or 9 years old, we went on a family trip to Prince Edward Island. It was quite a drive, followed by a long ferry ride. When you're a kid, long trips are the absolute worst. But my grandmother kept me going with all sorts of car games. Not like today where parents throw a couple handheld video games in the back seat and call it good.

kids sleeping on backseats of car

We played the classics like I Spy, and whatnot. But I remember at one point my grandmother got pretty excited and pointed out what she called a "Witches Broom" up in a tree. She told me what good luck they were, and part of our car games the rest of the trip involved keeping our eyes out for more of them.

Other than the obvious, what's a Witches Broom?

So in real life, they're a ball-ish formation of sticks that have been forced to grow together by outside forces. Sometimes it's weather, or fungus, or insects that cause the tree stress and the branches clump together. They're really kind of cool when you start really looking at them. Some animals even make them their home. Here's one my wife found in our back woods...


But in folklore, the brooms have become an auspicious omen of good luck. However, other people might tell you different. They say the branchy balls got their name because people used to think that's what witches would actually use as their brooms, or it's a spot in the top of a tree where they might stop to rest. That's the beauty of folklore. There's no real right or wrong answer. Superstition is what you make it...

Witch's broom on pine tree. April, Belarus
Getty Images/iStockphoto

I prefer to believe my grandmother's version... That the witches balls are good luck. If you choose to believe the same, then start keeping your eyes peeled for them. Like many things, you'll feel like they're everywhere once you start seeing them. Fine by me. I will happily take all the good luck I can get!

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