9 Common Superstitions That Have Some Fancy Stories Behind Them

9 Common Superstitions That Have Some Fancy Stories Behind Them

Every culture has its own superstitions. Like in some Asian societies, people believe that sweeping the floor after sunset brings bad luck, and it’s bad to leave your chopsticks standing in a bowl of rice. But still, some cultures have been in touch with each other for so long that our beliefs have gotten mixed up, resulting in us treating some things in the same hilariously funny ways.

1. A black cat crossing your path

Black cats have become synonymous with many spooky things and superstitions. However, these creatures have only been associated with the occult since the thirteenth century. Particularly in Western culture, they were often seen as a witch’s familiar.

Witches have always been known to honor nature, having a deep respect for plants and animals. Unfortunately, any affection for the latter began to be seen as “diabolical.” In previous years, it seemed like nothing had changed. For instance, black cats can take 10 days longer to be adopted than others. Everything started to change in 2019 when a study showed these poor creatures only took 2 days longer to be adopted.

2. Crossing your fingers

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This gesture is mainly used for 2 purposes: to ward off evil spirits or bring good luck. In ancient times, people crossed their index fingers with each other, thinking that it would invoke good spirits and fulfill their wishes.

It’s also said that early Christians used it as a protection against God’s anger for breaking one of the commandments: “Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.” This religion was banned at those times. So every time they had to lie about following Christianity, they simply crossed their fingers, truly believing it could help. Today, some of us do the same crossing of our fingers behind our backs.

3. Opening umbrellas indoors

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This one also has nothing to do with bad luck or anything of the kind. Actually, in the eighteenth century, umbrellas were made with metal spokes. And their stiff, clumsy spring mechanism made them even more dangerous indoors. So any sudden opening could seriously injure anyone around them.

Even if nobody got hurt, such an accident could provoke a minor quarrel in a family, especially if there were little children that could’ve been in the way. So maybe that was a major reason why such a simple and relevant action today was considered a strange superstition in the past.

4. Broken mirrors

Ancient Greeks believed that people’s reflection on the surface of water revealed their souls. But mirrors were first manufactured a bit later by Romans, who believed that their souls were observed through these devices by gods. That’s why damaging mirrors was considered to be disrespectful toward them.

However, there also are more rational explanations for this superstition. In the seventeenth century, the first factories to manufacture mirrors started to appear in Europe. But these fancy pieces of glass were still very expensive and only very rich people could own one. That’s why breaking them caused additional expenses and was believed to be a very unlucky thing to happen.

5. Walking under ladders

All the “bad luck” concerning this superstition hides in the triangular shape the ladder creates on its own or with any surface. Many Christians believe it represents the Holy Trinity, and the number 3 is somewhat sacred to them. So walking through this triangle is seen as breaking the Holy Trinity.

Another explanation is that the ladder in such a position was associated with the gallows in the past. But since there’s nothing like that in our time, we hopefully don’t need to bother thinking about it anymore. Still, if you believe it may bring you bad luck, simply spit 3 times through the rungs of the ladder, or cross your fingers until you find a dog. One more funny option to “solve the problem” is to back out the way you came, but this time, you’ll have the chance to make a wish.

6. Knocking on wood

In many cultures, people knock their knuckles on or touch a piece of wood to ward off bad luck. One common explanation is that some pagan cultures believed that spirits and gods resided in trees. So knocking on it was a kind of a call for their protection.

However, some researchers believe that it all traces back to a nineteenth-century children’s game called “Tiggy Touchwood.” It was a type of tag-game in which players were immune from being caught when they touched a piece of wood.

7. Itchy palms

Well, it’s always great to receive any indication of some money coming in. While this superstition was first popularized by the Saxons in the fifth century, some researchers say it could simply be caused by different diseases, such as hives.

Throughout history, some superstitions, including this one, have melded together, so now we have many people believing in it around the globe. Some people even try to scratch their hands on wood to bring themselves even more luck. But still, it’s better to be careful and consult doctors in any severe cases of itching — or just try to wash your hands. Don’t worry, money will come from some other sources.

8. Saying, “Bless you!”

One of the most common explanations here is connected with the idea that in ancient times, a sneeze was a sign that someone had the plague. Though sneezing wasn’t a symptom of this horrible disease, people still believed that a blessing was a way to show compassion and could somehow protect people.

9. Spilling salt

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The origins of this one are somewhat similar to breaking mirrors. The fact is that salt was very expensive in the past and could be used for many useful purposes. Wasting it, therefore, was frowned upon. It was a precious spice and one had to be very careful with it.

Though today, some artists willingly make paintings using this ingredient, not worrying about things like that.

Which of these superstitions do you still believe in? Are there any other ones that are very common in your country?

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GEORGE ROGERS/SIPA/EAST NEWS, GEORGE ROGERS/SIPA/EAST NEWS

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