- Education and Science»
- Sociology & Anthropology
10 Common 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!
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 Â© 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
Great Books about Common Superstitions
Common Superstitions Poll - See what people think about common superstitions, real or fake?
Do you believe in superstitions?
four leaf clover, intro picture. Photo credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Schnobby