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What's with the Lucky Hearth Cricket?

The Cricket: Humanity's original guard dog

No one is precisely certain how or where the story of the lucky hearth cricket originates, but the evolution of the oral tradition is fairly clear.

In many cultures, crickets are sacred creatures, because they signaled for noise or danger.  When everything is normal, the crickets boastfully chirp and chat. When crickets sense danger, they fall silent.

In ancient Japanese lore for example, families would listen for the crickets to signal if there is an intruder.  Across the globe, some Native Americans tribes did the same.  Even now, humans are conditioned to sense silence. We see it often in movies, thrillers, and westerns.

The Hearth: The heart of a home

Because the hearth was the center of the home (and often in the only room in the home) the tradition of the protective cricket combined with the imagery of the hearth. No one is positive how it happened, but the cricket on the hearth became legend.  In England, it was so well-known that Charles Dickens wrote a novella called, The Cricket on the Hearth: A Fairy Tale of Home. (It doesn't have much to do with crickets).

There you have it!  In case your know-it-all uncle critiques your lucky cricket at the next family reunion, you're prepared.