Chimney Sweep Legends and Lucky Lore

Lucky Chimney Sweep Legends, Lore and Traditions

Why are Chimney Sweeps Lucky?

Chimney sweep legends, lore and traditions were born with the invention of the chimney and have flourished every since.  What are these legends and how did they originate?

Why Is It Good Luck to Have a Chimney Sweep at a Wedding?

Legend says a chimney sweep saved the life of William the Conqueror by pushing him out of the path of a run-away horse and wagon.

As a reward, King William invited the sweep to his daughter’s wedding.  Britishers have considered chimney sweeps to be lucky ever since.  An elaboration on this legend has King William, in appreciation for the heroic act of the chimney sweep, allowing all sweeps to wear top hats, a privilege reserved at that time for the aristocracy.

Bert, the lucky chimney sweep in the movie Mary Poppins

Some lucky chimney sweep legends start with William the Conqueror.

Or maybe it didn’t happen that way at all.  Another account has a chimney sweep hanging from the gutter after slipping off the roof.  A young woman saw him dangling there and pulled him into the house, saving his life.  The chimney sweep and the maiden fell in love and were married.

Either way, it’s good luck to have a chimney sweep at your wedding, so couples would hire a sweep to attend.  Even today, some chimney sweeps can be hired to bless the bride and groom with a good luck toast at a wedding. Or a cheaper alternative is to have a willing guest dressed in a chimney sweep costume.

How Can a Chimney Sweep Share His Good Luck with You?

After the chimney sweep cleans your chimney, shake his hand for good luck.  Or young children can try to snatch a bristle of his brush for good luck.

Anytime you see a chimney sweep, not just after his has cleaned your flue, lore claims you can garner good luck by shaking his hand, touching his buttons, kissing him, or even blowing him a kiss.  Just ask Mary Poppins!  As the chimney sweep Bert, played by Dick Van Dyke, sings in the movie Mary Poppins:

Good luck will rub off when I shakes ‘ands with you
Or blow me a kiss and that’s lucky too!

Bert, the lucky chimney sweep in the movie Mary Poppins

Dick Van Dyke as Bert, the lucky chimney sweep in the movie Mary Poppins.

A further elaboration on the good luck powers of chimney sweeps has it that they can even cancel out bad luck!

If you see a chimney sweep on the roof of a house, lore says the house will be blessed.  This might have come from the fact that homes with clean chimneys don’t have chimney fires.

Why Do Chimney Sweeps Wear the Top Hat and Tails?

The traditional garb of the chimney sweep – top hat and Victorian tailcoats – came to be in the 1400’s when sweeps would don the cast-off clothes of undertakers.  The black formal wear gave dignity to the lowly profession and didn’t show the soot from chimneys!


Profession chimney sweeps, certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America can bring you the good luck – not to mention the peace of mind – of a clean and therefore safe chimney.  And just in case there’s some truth to those chimney sweep legends and lore,  when they are at your home, don’t forget to shake their hands or blow them kisses!

Posted in Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance Tagged with:

Ways to Spruce Up Fireplace for Christmas

Beautiful fireplace decorated for Christmas

Use these 6 ideas to spruce up the fireplace for Christmas and your holiday guests:

1.   Clean out the ashes.

A fireplace full of ashes (like an ashtray full of ashes)Cricket Ash Vac looks unkempt.  You can either scoop ashes with your fireplace shovel into an ash bucket or you can vacuum out the cold ashes with an ash vac.

The ash vac has the advantage of cleaning out the super-fine ash dust that finds its way into cracks.

Whether you use sweep or vacuum, first open the damper and crack a window in the room with the fireplace.  Any airborne ash dust will then be drawn up the chimney as you clean instead of drifting into your room. Wondering what to do with those ashes now?

2.    Remove soot and stains.

Three areas of a wood-burning fireplace are susceptible to soot and stains: the mantel, the bricks or stones surrounding the fireplace opening, and the interior of the firebox.

A soot eraser is usually sufficient for cleaning smudges from the fireplace mantel.

There are two methods of cleaning the bricks surrounding the fireplace and the interior of the firebox.  If you are not adverse to elbow grease, click here for cleaning instructions.  If you would prefer a no-scrub method, we highly recommend Paint N Peel, a product specifically designed for professional chimney sweeps to use to clean inside and around the fireplace. Paint on a thick layer of Paint N Peel, let it dry thoroughly (usually 24 hours, depending on the humidity), and then just peel it off.  As you peel it away from the fireplace, the soot and stains are lifted from off the surface and from inside cracks.

Spruce up a fireplace by cleaning the firebox with Paint N Peel.

Before and After photos courtesy ChimneySaver, the manufacturer of Paint N Peel.

3.    Shine the slate hearth.

Sweep the area right in front of the hearth.  If you have a slate hearth, wash and dry it and then wipe it down with lemon oil for a pristine shine. See directions for cleaning a slate hearth here.

4.    Create order on the hearth.Spruce up a fireplace for Christmas with a log rack with places for newspaper and kindling.

Everything from fireplace gloves and matches to newspapers, kindling and logs can end up dominating the hearth and detracting from the beauty of your fireplace. Log holders with storage shelves control that clutter.

Containing all the fire-making supplies in one tidy accessory is a great way to spruce up a fireplace for Christmas or any other time of the year.

5.    Remove clutter from the mantel.

Before you decorate the mantel for Christmas, get rid of any clutter that might have accumulated there.  You know: the things that ended up on the fireplace mantel simply because they were in your hand and the mantel was the nearest surface.

 6.   Fill the fireplace with fire.

Now build a welcoming fire in your fireplace.  Nothing says “welcome” to holidays guests like an inviting fire in the fireplace. Read fire-building tips here.

If, however, you don’t burn firewood in your fireplace, insert a fireplace candelabra with candles into the firebox. When the candles are lit, you get all the hospitality of a fireplace fire, but with candle light instead of firelight.

Whether you are awaiting Santa or other holiday guests, a clean, orderly fireplace and hearth is an instant face-lift for the whole room.  In addition, both Mr. and Mrs. Claus appreciate your ash-free and soot-free fireplace.

Posted in Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance, Holidays Tagged with: ,

Decorate White Christmas Fireplace Mantels

Glow of snow fireplace mantel

Snow is capable of turning the most ordinary of settings into a magical wonderland, including your holiday fireplace mantel. Take a look at the elegant white Christmas mantel above (photograph by Sussie Bell.)

A Sophisticated White Christmas Mantel

The look of snow’s shine and shimmer is captured through the use of all white decorations, accessories and even furniture upholstery accented with lots of silver and mirrors. While your home may not include all white furniture and an antique fireplace screen you can certainly re-create this sophisticated look. Search for:

Arrange any or all of these ornaments in a fashion that best suits your décor. For example, if you prefer a formal setting similar to the one shown in the photo you might want to use a symmetrical arrangement on your mantel.

A Casual White Christmas Mantel

On the other hand, if you prefer a more casual feel but still like an all-white theme, try capturing the look and feel in the room below by Centsational Girl blog.

An All White Christmas Fireplace Mantel Accented with a Bright Punch of Red.

This all white Christmas fireplace mantel decorated by Centsational Girl
is accented with a bright punch of red.

All white ornaments that include spray painted candle holders, ceramic holiday trees and deer statues and the occasional snowball or snowflake adorn the mantel that is topped with a mirror that sparkles like snow. Even the fireplace accessories receive a touch of white Christmas with casual knit stockings hung on the fireplace screen. A simple fallen tree branch receives a coating of snow and is adorned with little red cardinals to add just the right punch of color.

If you would like to capture the look of a snowfall on your own holiday White Christmas mantel, keep an eye out for:

  • Items such as candle holders, votive cups or simple ornaments that are mirrored or glittered to add the sparkle necessary for this look. Mercury glass works well.
  • Mirrors of any size and shape. If you happen to find a garland strung with tiny mirrors you have struck gold as this can be hung across the mantel and will reflect decorations, firelight and candles from across the room.
  • Holiday items with an all-white coating. However, it is easy to spray paint old candlesticks, ornaments, statuary and other pieces that contribute to your snow theme.
  • Fireplace accessories such as fireplace andirons, candelabras, and tool sets. These accessories are the “jewelry” for your fireplace and allow you to really dress it up for the holidays. Go ahead and spray paint them white if you want, so they look as though they have come in from the falling snow.

A snow themed holiday fireplace mantel is simple to accomplish and the best part; no need to bundle up to enjoy the magic of snow. No need even to wait for real snow to have a White Christmas mantel.

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Handmade Charm Christmas Fireplace Mantels

Handmade Christmas Fireplace Decorations

Do you knit? Do you sprinkle glitter on anything that isn’t breathing? Is your glue gun always loaded and ready? If you answered yes to any of these questions then a hand-crafted Christmas fireplace mantel is perfect for you.

You do not have to be a master crafter or expert seamstress to recreate the charming and hand-made look and feel of this Christmas mantel.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.

Stockings are a staple in any holiday fireplace mantel décor and are made even more special when they are lovingly hand-crafted. Consider starting with an applique or needlepoint Christmas stocking kit.

Use a Christmas Stocking Kit to create a handmade stocking.

Use a Christmas Stocking Kit to create a handmade stocking.

If you can knit you can make the vintage looking red and white striped stockings or use any pattern from a Christmas Stocking Knitting Kit that you think will entice Santa Claus to fill it to the brim!

Knitting Patterns for Christmas Stockings

Find a knitting pattern for the Christmas stocking of your choice.

For those of you who sew, or pretend to sew with the miracle we know as fabric glue, create socks out of muslin, burlap or scraps of fabric. Adorn them with buttons and trinkets or hand-embroider individual names so there is no confusion come Christmas morning.

Let it snow!

Is there anything more magical than a white Christmas? I remember cutting out snowflakes from plain white paper and hanging them on the windows with tape. Take that same idea but dangle them in front of a mirror for double the pleasure. You can add glitter and even make three dimensional versions for added effect and dimension. Simply hang them with clear fishing wire to replicate the look of a snowfall.

And don’t forget the fireplace tools. Add a snowflake or two to the tool set to carry the theme all the way down to the floor.

Kids will love this project. Just for fun, write the name of the “artist” and add the date and see how the snowflakes improve in appearance as you pull them out each year.

Presents galore

While the vintage luggage and wrapped presents are a nice way to decorate a non-working fireplace where no fireplace screen is necessary you could switch those out for a fireplace candelabra filled with glowing candles to mimic the look and feel of a fire. Place a fireplace screen in front to increase the feel of a real fire.

You can make your own candles, use battery operated and flameless candles or wrap traditional white candles with burlap ribbon and add a sprig of holly picked from your front yard. For safety, be sure the flame of the candle is nowhere near the ribbon or greenery and never leave a burning candle unattended, especially if little ones are snooping around the fireplace.

Less is more

The Christmas theme continues on this fireplace mantel with simple, small green Christmas trees placed in pots and poinsettias fill a collection of white pitchers . Painted gold and silver balls add a touch of sparkle and shine. As an additional fireplace accessory and to personalize this mantel use the monogrammed table runner as a mantel scarf.

A hand-crafted Christmas is a great way to use items that are readily available and to save money. Here are some good sources of how to make homemade ornaments for Christmas. More importantly, making Christmas ornaments and fireplace decorations is a great new tradition to bring the family together during the holidays…and isn’t that what it is all about?

Above photo: A charming Christmas fireplace mantel decorated with easy to make
decorations from the Lettered Cottage Design Blog

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