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10 Common Superstitions

Updated on February 20, 2014

Superstitions

Nothing irritated my mother more, than opening my umbrella in the house as a child. She is a very superstitious woman, and she takes these things seriously. I remember thinking, "Mom is so crazy, why not open it inside and keep dry?". I have to admit, I often did it on purpose just to get a reaction from her! You know how kids are though, right? Mom's silly superstitions always fascinated me.

To this day I enjoy reading about superstitions, and things that go bump in the night. I was looking up some common superstitions and reminiscing about the past, and decided that I should make a page about my 10 favorite common superstitions. I can't say that I'm a huge believer in superstitions myself, but I still find them very intriguing. Especially learning about their origins, and how some of them came to be.

You wouldn't believe how many different tales there are on where these superstitions came from- I've found some really interesting ones below!There are several other superstitions out there that many others swear by however, some of which you can hear about in the video down below. For starters, I hope you check out my list of my 10 personal favorites! You just might learn some interesting things you didn't know. Thanks for stopping by! Photo credit-text added: Umberto Salvagnin

1.Find A Penny Pick It up

All Day Long You'll Have Good Luck

Finding a penny on the ground is definitely lucky because you found free money! Who doesn't love that? There are several sayings about where this superstition came from! An interesting belief I came across is that in some cultures people believed that "God's" would bless them with metals. So finding a penny on the ground was considered a direct blessing from the "God's".

I actually have an aunt who is very superstitious as well, and she collects pennies. She believes finding pennies heads up or down, either way, is good luck. She has a wall in her basement downstairs that she calls her "Lucky Penny Wall", where she has done the whole wall in pennies! I will try to get a picture of it and put on here, it's really neat!

2. Breaking A Mirror Brings 7 Years Bad Luck

This common superstition is often associated with the belief that your soul could be trapped inside a broken mirror. Several cultures including the Greeks, Chinese, Africans, etc. believed that mirrors were capable of this! I know I'm not the most superstitious person, but even I cringe when I break a mirror. I have been wanting to do some artwork with mirror shards but I can't bring myself to break one... so I don't know. Something about this is eerie, perhaps because seven years is a long time if it were true!

3. Opening An Umbrella In The House Is Bad Luck

There are several claims to where the idea that Opening an umbrella in the house is bad luck actually comes from. Though some historians believe the superstition is from Egyptian origins, the majority seem to believe that it is derived from England. When umbrellas were born, they weren't as sturdy as the umbrellas we use today. In fact the springs and prongs in them were likely to put an eye out. Thus suggesting why the common superstitions of opening them in the house were formed: To keep your kids from breaking things inside or putting an eye out!

Photo by Fornax [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

4. It Is Good Luck To Find A Four Leaf Clover

Perhaps this superstition is because four leaf clovers are so rare, or maybe the legends of Eve hold true? Some believe that Eve took a four leaf clover from the Garden of Eden when she and Adam were banished. This was said to be a token of remembrance for the days they spent there. Though this is probably just an old tale, when I think of this I can visualize a beautiful garden full of four leaf clovers- how neat!

Photo credit: Angeladellatorre

5. Knock On Wood To Prevent Something Bad From Happening

You've probably hear it a million times, "Knock on Wood". I can just hear my mother now, "Your sister is being so good today, knock on wood". Then I can see her tapping her fist against the coffee table. This is a superstition that is among the most common superstitions, and one that most people are probably familiar with. The idea is that if you knock on wood after you say something, that it will prevent something bad from happening. There are several ideas to where this superstition came from. I came across a particularly interesting thought that it came from ancient times when man regarded trees as "wood spirits" and they believed that if you touched them they would gain the spirit's protection. Photo Credit: Marco Monetti

6. An Itchy Palm Means Money Will Come Your Way

There have been several times that my palms have itched, and my mom would tell me money was going to come my way. I always thought this was such a silly superstition, since it hardly ever came true. I always just shrugged it off, and didn't think twice about it. I always wondered how that saying came to be. Perhaps this common superstition has more variations than any of the others. From what I have found, this is most commonly linked back to old Celtic beliefs. It's related to the superstition that rubbing wood was a way to encourage money to come your way. Wish it were that easy!

7. Spilling Salt Brings Bad Luck

Unless You Toss Some Over Your Shoulder

Spilling salt has been deemed unlucky for several thousands of years. Another one of the more common superstitions, I'd be surprised if you hadn't heard of it or seen people do it. I will admit that on occasion if I spill salt I will toss a bit over my shoulder, better safe than sorry right? Many people believe that if you were unlucky enough to spill the salt, you could fix it by tossing some over your shoulder. Some believe you were metaphorically throwing salt in the devils eye (who legends say is always behind you). Although other people believe the origins are more realistic. Salt was once a very expensive commodity, and by deeming spilled salt unlucky it may have made people be more careful with such an important staple.

photo credit © Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar / CC-BY-SA-3.0

8. Walking Under A Ladder

It isn't hard to believe that somewhere, somebody decided that walking under a ladder might not be the best of ideas. But aside from safety, there are a couple interesting origins to this where this superstition came from. A ladder, opened, forms the shape of a triangle. The triangle is also the symbol representing the Holy Trinity. To walk under the ladder and through the triangle would be breaking this trinity and considered unlucky. The other origin comes from the triangle as well, which was once believed to be a symbol of life itself. Walking under a ladder under this belief was a tempt of fate to some! I had to include this in my list of common superstitions, because it is another one that my mom believed in very much. I can see why you wouldn't walk under a ladder, for safety reasons. Yet, the thought that it was son dangerous just might be the reason we always walked under them as kids. I am still one lucky lady as far as I can see!

9. Black Cat Superstition

Black Cat Crossing Your Path Is Bad Luck

Long ago, somewhere during the middle ages, people began associating black cats as the companion animals of witches. A lot of people called them "familiars" of witches. Because so many people believed witches to be associated with evil, when a black cat crossed your path it was considered bad luck! I have owned black cats before, and they crossed my paths several times. I never really believed that black cats were bad luck, but I always found the story behind this superstition very interesting.

10. Hanging A HorseShoe Over Your Door For Good Luck

My favorite origin of this tale is from long ago, when witches were afraid of horses, and thus they ride brooms instead. Because of the fear of horses, people placed horseshoes above their doors to ward off witches!

Photo by Fonzy at the English language Wikipedia

This is a great video for more info on common superstitions

Common Superstitions Poll - See what people think about common superstitions, real or fake?

Do you believe in superstitions?

See results

four leaf clover, intro picture. Photo credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Schnobby

Are you superstitious, or know somebody that is? - Please share your thoughts below, I would love to hear from you!

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    • Zeross4 profile image
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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @asereht1970: Thanks for sharing your views, superstitions are an interesting thing!

    • asereht1970 profile image

      asereht1970 3 years ago

      Great lens. There are also very superstitious people that I know of. They always say don't do this, don't do that for fear of bad luck. When I asked how do they know it is bad luck, they just answer that it is "kasabihan ng matatanda" (a saying from the elders/old people. I jokingly ask them to show me who are these elders/old people and I will kill them one by one so that these superstitious belief will stop.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @MelaniePaige13: Thanks :)

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      Melanie Paige 3 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Great lens. I'm not one for superstitions, but it was an interesting read :)

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @TerriCarr: Thanks, a great perspective!

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      TerriCarr 3 years ago

      I probably have a few superstitions that I scarcely think of as superstitions. I think there is little harm in many of them, as long as you don't make yourself overly anxious.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @Heidi Vincent: I'd have to agree with that. Scientists refer to the law of attraction and how what you think and believe you attract.

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      Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

      Superstitions only become real to the person who believes them, They expect what they believe to happen and so they call it into their space.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @goldenrulecomics: Yes I too always have that thought cross my mind when I find a penny :-)

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 3 years ago

      I'm not superstitious but when I see a penny I always think about having good luck all day!

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      Halloween Cosplay 3 years ago

      I still pick up a penny to get good luck.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @eiramarie: True, some look at it as "better safe than sorry" I suppose :) Thanks for stopping by!

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      eiramarie 3 years ago

      Hi.. I know someone that is so superstitious, everything for her has need to follow the do's and don't. Sometime it was so irritating, but as they say there is no harm if we follow it...:)

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @John Dyhouse: Thank you for your point of view :)

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      John Dyhouse 3 years ago from UK

      I am not superstitious at all, as a scientist I am immune - EXCEPT if I can see a little bit of truth in the particular superstition, like walking under a ladder. I can imagine that an accident could happen. It won't affect your luck (no such thing!) but it may precipitate an accident :)

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      RaniaCalvenea 3 years ago

      I had not heard of some of these, how interesting.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @susan369: Thanks! I had no idea you were from Europe, that's neat that they have the same superstitions!

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      susan369 3 years ago

      It's interesting how these superstitions are exactly the same in other countries as well, at least in Europe. You really managed to pick the top 10 very well!

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @delia-delia: Thanks :) I hadn't really thought about it that way!

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      Delia 3 years ago

      I'm a Christian and superstition can not play a part, you either have Faith that God is in control, or you rely on man-made wise tale thinking...JMO ;-)

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @loopylooh: Same here ;)

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      loopylooh 3 years ago

      I'm not a great believer in superstition but my mum believes them all

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @Colin323: Thanks, I'm so glad you did! I used to find them all the time, it seems to have worked for me as well :) I'm blessed with two baby boys and a great fiancé. What more could I ask for? Thanks for stopping by, glad you liked my lens :)

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      dwelburn 3 years ago

      Interesting lens on the origins of superstitions. I used to look for 4 leaf clovers when I was a kid. Never did find one though :)

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      Colin323 3 years ago

      When I was 10 or 11, I found a four-leafed clover. As my life has been a good one - it worked for me, and is still working! I liked this lens very much.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @dwelburn: Thank you! Maybe your already a lucky guy, so that's why you never found the four leaf clovers :)

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @Stephanie36: Thanks so much!

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      Stephanie 3 years ago from Canada

      I used to believe in some of these as a kid, but now I really feel like they're just superstitions. I sort of believe in some, like the four leave clover and finding a penny, but just for fun...not with any real seriousness.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @sierradawn lm: That's cool, what a great superstition to have come true too! I have heard of "beginners luck" also, and I will say that the first time I went to bingo with my aunt I won 599 jackpot, and they all claimed it was beginners luck. I've came across that a few times like the other night my fiancé was teaching me to play the Magic card game with him and I beat him twice in a row, having never played before. So maybe there is a such thing as beginners luck? Thank you for stopping by and for liking my lens!

    • sierradawn lm profile image

      sierradawn lm 3 years ago

      I do find it quite odd that every time my hand itches I get unexpected money without fail. I do not worry about cats and ladders and such though. Very informative and entertaining lens!

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @takkhisa: would be interesting to hear them :-) thanks for checking my lenses out, i seen several of yours they were all wonderful. nice to meet you!

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      Takkhis 3 years ago

      Never heard of these types of superstitions before though here where I live we have our own superstitions. :)

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @Snakesmum: Hmm that's really interesting, and surprising too! I must say though, there are a lot of tales around these superstitions, it was a very fun topic to do more research on! Thanks for stopping by!!

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      Jean DAndrea 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Have never heard this particular story about horseshoes before. It's supposed to be unlucky to hang them upside down, because then your luck will run away.

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @JoleneBelmain: Love your outlook on things! I would have to agree with you, thanks for stopping by and for your comments!

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      JoleneBelmain 3 years ago

      I was married to a man who's family was extremely superstitious, but it always seemed that they didn't have any positive superstitions, only negative ones which bothered me very much, I am a "glass half full" type person. Now I refuse to be since it bothered me so badly. If I choose to have any superstitions, I make sure that they are only positive ones. I do believe that we make our own luck with our attitude, and I also believe in good/bad karma.

      I think that superstitions were all made up from someone who just didn't want things being done, or that were dangerous, because realistically if you think about it, most are things that would just make more sense if they weren't done at all lol.

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      RadaFrancis LM 3 years ago

      lol I am not superstitious, but my mom sure is and I think she believes in every one of the superstitions on your list.

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      anonymous 3 years ago

      An awesome lens. I love learning about the origins of superstitions and myths like these. Great work, keep it up!

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @norma-holt: Thank you !

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 3 years ago

      Superstition is what keeps religions rich and in business. People are prone to believe anything if told to them often enough. My mind is too sharp to fall into the trap. Good fun and nicely done lens.

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      Magda2012 3 years ago

      That's also interesting to see different cultures have different superstitions. Thanks for sharing this fun article :)

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      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      @SusanDeppner: Hi Susan, thanks for visiting and liking my lens! Yes, there are some very interesting tales as to where these superstitions come from indeed. I'm not a very superstitious person myself, but I do have enough common sense not to walk under ladders haha. My family on the other hand is quite superstitious! Thanks again, Daisy.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Interesting to read the background of some of these superstitions. I like to think I'm not superstitious, but there are some things that just make sense to avoid. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!