Get Off My Grave!

chicken pasta with tomato sauce and cheeseToday, my boyfriend looked after my son while I was at work. It’s the school holidays here.

Tonight, when I finished my day job, I went to his place and we had dinner there before coming home.

During the evening, I felt a shiver go up my spine. My boyfriend asked if I was ok and I answered,

“Yea I’m ok. Someone just walked over my grave, that’s all.”

And we had a little chuckle.

Then I got dangerous. I started thinking…..

That’s a very odd thing to say really. I’m not dead, so how can anyone be walking over my grave? Why do we say this? Where did it come from?

A Complete Collection of Genteel and Ingenious Conversation Simon WagstaffSo, do you know what I did?

That’s right. I Googled it!

And it is so fascinating!

There are no records of when humankind started using the saying. The first known record of the saying is in writing, found in a book written by Simon Wagstaff in 1738 titled “A Complete Collection of Genteel and Ingenious Conversation”. Simon Wagstaff was one of a number of pseudonyms used by the much-celebrated writer Jonathan Swift.

Jonathan Swift by Charles JervasFolk legend has it that a sudden cold sensation was caused by someone walking over the place where a person was going to eventually be buried. In the Middle Ages, people believed in communication between the afterlife in heaven or hell and the living world. During these times, many people had pre-purchased their grave spot. The saying “someone just walked over my grave” or “someone is walking over my grave” was in reference to a living person walking over the ground which was intended to be their final resting place.

In my research, I found out that there are variants of the saying which I never knew existed. These include:

gooseA goose just walked over my grave….

It is believed to come from America, derived from the feeling of goose bumps when chilliness comes on suddenly.


ghostA ghost just walked over my grave….

The same as a person walking over someone’s grave, only it’s believed to be a ghost not a living person.


grave catA cat just walked over my grave….

When someone got a cold chill, it was believed that the person was given a second chance at life.

All of this has got me driving further down this intriguing road of thinking – and researching…..

Have you ever thought about why we get shivers down our spines in the first place?

Our bodies are awe-some, fascinating and mysterious things. There are number of different events which cause the shivers down our spine and goose bumps.

goose bumps 1First of all, we get it from our ancestors. When a cold chill hit, their body would react naturally to this and their hair would stand on end. That was their body’s way of providing extra warmth.

This would also happen if a person was feeling threatened. A person’s body’s natural reaction was to try and look bigger in a bid to scare away the object of their fear by making their hair and skin expand.

emotionsEmotion and stress can trigger the shiver down the spine and the goose bumps. Things such as music, watching a movie or if something unexpected happens are quite common causes. Our emotions are connected to these things as well as to everyday life. Feelings such as love, fear, sadness, wonder, terror and euphoria are just some which can affect us to the point of experiencing the “someone walked over my grave” sensation.

brain hypothalamusThere is a lot about our brains mankind doesn’t know but there is also a lot we do know. Such as, the hypothalamus. This part controls the shivers and goose bumps and is connected to our emotions. In the presence of intense feelings, the hypothalamus goes to work. It sends a signal to our body which produces adrenaline in our blood. In turn, goose bumps and shivers make themselves known.

musicFor me, I sometimes experience a shiver down my spine for no apparent reason. You may also experience this. These random shivers can be our body misreading sensory contact by the central nervous reel

Wow! What interesting and fascinating stuff! Can’t help but feel a bit smarter now. If while watching “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” there is a question about this, I will be able to answer it and be one up on my dad!

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