SUPERSTITIONS AROUND THE WORLD

There are a lot of times when our grandparents or parents have stopped us from doing certain things at certain times. I have always wondered how or why do people believe that certain things as such do happen. We all can name a couple of superstitions but here are some from all around the world.

KNOCKING ON WOOD

Indo-European, Celtic, or possibly British

The Indo-European or Celtic belief that spirits resided in trees could be either called for protection or chased away by knocking on their home. Most likely among the different theories, historians have attributed the superstition to a 19th-century British children’s game called “Tiggy Touchwood” in which players claimed immunity from being tagged by touching the nearest piece of wood. Adults picked up on the habit and the phrase ”Touch Wood”.

BROKEN MIRROR

Ancient Greek/Roman, and European

The belief that a broken mirror brings bad luck most likely has its origins in the simple fact that reflections of ourselves are uncanny and often unnerving. It was the ancient Romans who said that a broken mirror would bring seven years of bad luck as it was believed that only poor health would cause a mirror to crack.

STEPPING ON A CRACK

African and European folklore

The superstition of “stepping on a crack” as foretelling, or even causing, harm to a family member. As with mirrors, cracks—in the earth, on a sidewalk, or almost anywhere—have long been seen as portals to the realm of the supernatural, for both good and ill. 

LUCKY HORSESHOE

Ancient Roman, Celtic/British Isles, Europe

The earliest origins of the horseshoe’s function as a good luck charm reside in its vulval shape. The most famous story of a horseshoe bringing good luck, however, refers to the story of Saint Dunstan, who apparently worked as a blacksmith prior to attaining sainthood.

BLACK CAT

European

Things only went downhill for black cats from there, with people of the Middle Ages burning them in bonfires on Holy Days like Shrove Tuesday, the first Sunday of Lent, and even Easter, and with the Puritans in America connecting them to the practice of witchcraft. Also, the color black has long been associated with evil and death, which didn’t help matters for our furry friends who had the misfortune of being born the color of night.

FRINGERS CROSSED

Western Europe, Pagan & Christian

The superstition of crossing one’s fingers is responsible in bringing good luck from pre-Christian, Pagan times in Western Europe, when the practice of making a cross with your own and the index finger of another person was thought to bring the forces of good spirits and to seal a pact or a wish with the fellow-crosser.

THE NUMBER FOUR

China

As we’ve seen with numbers like thirteen and seven, numbers are frequently assigned different magical significance or status depending on the culture in question. For the Chinese, the number “four” is a no-no, due to the similarity in its pronunciation, in Chinese, to the word for “death.”

CURSE OF THE EVIL EYE

Mediterranean and Middle East

It’s a common belief that’s been held for thousands of years that to achieve too much success would be to invite the anger or inspire the envy of the gods, who would then attract the unfortunate individual with a reversal of fortune. In response to the fear of this curse, people across the ancient Mediterranean began using amulets and beads with an image of an ‘evil eye’, sometimes referred to as nazars, which would then help ward off that horrible.

ITCHY PALMS

Caribbean

 It is a common belief that an itchy left palm means you will owe money soon, whereas an itchy right palm means money is coming your way. There is an explanation that might tell us why such a distinction. The left hand seems to hold passive energy, and the right hand active energy which symbolically could explain the coming in and out of money.

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