Did you ever cross your fingers for luck, or knock on wood, or have a 'lucky' shirt that you wear when you need to have a good day? Have you felt guilty for stepping on a crack on the sidewalk? Do you think you have lucky numbers?
If you have, then you have participated in superstitions.
But how did some of these things get started???
It's thought that there are two basic sources for superstitions: religion or folklore. When we say 'religious reasons,' we're talking about people who believed that if you didn't do something a certain way, you would be punished by God or by The Gods. This also branches out into any kind of religion, maybe even including voodoo.
Folklore includes ideas passed down generation to generation and across communities. Beginning when education was scarce, rumors could be spread throughout a community, so if someone started the notion that it was bad luck to wear yellow, let's say, that could spread by word of mouth until it was an accepted fear, even though there was no basis for it. Here are some common superstitions:
- Cross your fingers for luck: It seems this is a way to have the sign of the cross, for Christians; you are in essence blessing yourself.
- Knock on wood: Wood being a long-lasting material, it's thought that people started to 'knock on wood' to ensure success, that is, the wish they expressed would be as solid as wood.
- Lucky charms-you may have some object you think is lucky, whether it's a small object or a piece of clothing you wear when you want to do well. These things can be traced to voodoo, where objects were 'given' power. Obviously, this is strictly in the mind of the charm-holder.
- Black cats being bad luck: When witchcraft was a feared part of life, cats that belonged to 'witches' were thought to bring bad luck.
- Walking under a ladder brings bad luck: It was thought that since an open ladder forms 3 sides, it represented the Trinity in Christianity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) so if you walk under the ladder you are breaking the Trinity.
- Breaking a mirror: People used to believe a mirror actually held some of your soul, so logically (to them) if you broke one, you were destroying part of yourself. Why 7 years of bad luck, who knows.
- Spilling salt, then throwing some over your shoulder: Salt used to be very valuable, as it was used to preserve food. If you spilled some, it was considered very bad luck. The idea was to take some that you spilled and throw it over your left shoulder for luck. Why the left shoulder? Because that was the side the Devil supposedly sat on. The idea was to throw the salt in the Devil's eyes. In fact, the word 'sinister' means 'left.'
- Have you heard the saying, "Break a Leg" as something you say to a performer about to go on stage? There are a number of possible explanations, one being that all the understudies for a part hoped that the star would break a leg so one of them could go on. Another is that Shakespeare referred to bowing after a performance as Breaking a Leg. Here is a link for a few other ideas:
- And what of Friday the 13th being unlucky? This is thought to have originated from the number of people at the Last Supper of Jesus. It was held on a Thursday, and the following day, Jesus was crucified. There have been two Fridays the 13th so far in 2015 and there is another on November 13th.
WOW for 10-26-2015: Talisman
- It's considered unlucky to open an umbrella inside. Why? It's thought that originally umbrellas were used in ancient times to keep the sun off; if you opened it inside you might offend the sun gods. It doesn't matter, however, if the umbrella has been used and you're just trying to dry it off. People used to believe that if you were a single woman and placed an umbrella on a table, you would never marry.
- Two people take hold of a wishbone, one on either end, and pull it apart. The one with the larger piece will have good luck.
- Make a wish, then blow out all the candles on your birthday cake and your wish will come true. http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=gif%20blowing%20out%20birthday%20candles%20animated&qs=n&form=QBVR&pq=gif%20blowing%20out%20birthday%20candles%#view=detail&mid=DFD8E5A363A9B837DD27DFD8E5A363A9B837DD27
- It's considered bad luck to put a pair of shoes on the table. This may be explained by the idea that when burying a body, people used to put all new clothing on the person and then have the body 'lying in state' at home, where their friends and relatives would visit. It seemed to tempt fate somehow to have shoes on a table, not to mention that shoes used to be hammered together with nails, and the nails could damage the table.
- When opening gifts at a bridal shower, it's an old tale that the number of ribbons the bride breaks will be the number of children she will have.
Do you have any rituals, lucky things, or superstitions? Share them with others (if you dare)....Or make up something new. Who knows, maybe only hitting "Snooze" twice will mean you'll have a good day....