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Many Common Superstitions that are Still Around Today

Updated on June 2, 2013

Common Superstitions

There are many superstitions that are still around today, and their origin goes way back in time to ancient civilizations like Rome, to the ancient Germans, Druids, and others, who believed in superstitions. Superstitions are irrational beliefs that come from ignorance and fear.There are many superstitions that are still around today. Some of these most common of superstitions are: "Don't Walk Under a Ladder", because its bad luck if you do, Black Cats (once thought to be familiars of witches), Rabbit's Foot (for good luck), Breaking mirrors (7-years bad luck), Knocking on wood, wishbones, umbrellas, Friday the 13th, the number 13, Birthday Spankings, cracks in the sidewalk, Blowing out all of the candles on your birthday cake to get your wish, and even sneezing, and many, many more...Superstitions are not logical or rational like science.

A good website to read about superstitions is: and a good website to read about urban legends is:

A Black Cat

A Black Cat and the Moon
A Black Cat and the Moon | Source

Some Well-known Superstitions

Some of the best known of all superstitions is:

1."Black Cats," Black cats are beautiful and good, but in the dark ages people associated black cats with witches and the devil. Black cats were seen as bad luck. Witch hunts were commonplace in the dark ages. Elderly and women, who were solitary were largely targeted and often accused of practicing witchcraft, and the women would keep cats as pets. Their accusers had the belief that the devil gave these women (the witches) their pet cats. The accusers believed that cats were the witche's familiars or that the cats were demon animals. There was, also, a belief in the dark ages that Satan turned himself into a cat, so that he could socialize with the witches. Another superstition about black cats is that if a black cat walks toward you, it brings you good luck, but if it walks away from you, it takes the good luck with it.

2."Don't Walk Under a Ladder." The rational logic behind this is that something might fall on you if you walk under an open ladder, so its better not to walk under ladders. The superstitious reason is because the open ladder forms a triangle shape meaning that life is to come. Walking under a ladder tempts fates and you might disturb spirits that live in the triangle; some of them might be evil spirits, who are not happy at being disturbed. There is a way to counter the bad luck if you do walk under a ladder, which is to place your thumb between your index and middle finger or cross your fingers on both of your hands to call upon the sign of the cross to protect you from evil.

A Ladder Triangle

A Ladder Triangle
A Ladder Triangle | Source

Video on Superstitions

A Cat and a Rabbit

A Cat and A Rabbit with Feet Attached
A Cat and A Rabbit with Feet Attached | Source

Rabbit's Foot and Breaking a Mirror

3. "Rabbit's Foot", Carrying a rabbit's foot with you when you go to play bingo or go gambling is thought to bring you good luck. The rabbit's foot that was believed to bring good luck, may have had its origin that went back to the time of the early Celtic tribes in Britain, so the rabbit's foot goes back a ways in history.

4. "Breaking a Mirror", Breaking a mirror gives you 7 years of bad luck. Mirrors were once thought to be the reflection of the soul, so breaking a mirror would cause harm to the soul. The belief was that if you break a mirror, you should take it out and bury it in the moonshine, to counter the bad effects of breaking the mirror. In the olden days, people would cover all of the mirrors in the house when someone died, to prevent the spirit or soul from becoming trapped in any mirrors that existed in the house.

Broken Mirror and the Number 13

Broken Mirror and the Number 13
Broken Mirror and the Number 13 | Source

Salt Shaker

A Salt Shaker
A Salt Shaker | Source

Knocking on Wood, Bad Luck in (3's) and Salt

5. "Knocking on Wood", means that if you knock on wood you are warding off bad luck after you had attempted fate. Knocking on wood twice reverses bad luck. Some cultures believed that gods lived in trees.

6. "Bad Luck Comes in Threes", which means that one bad thing happens, then another, and then a third bad thing is expected to happen, and when it does, its believed that bad luck comes in threes.

7. "Salt", was believed to be capable of warding off evil spirits. Salt was believed to be capable of purifying. If you accidently spill salt you can counteract the bad luck by throwing a pinch of salt over your left shoulder and you hit the devil behind you.


Friday the 13th=Unlucky Day

Friday the 13th
Friday the 13th | Source
An Alternate Patch Design Created by Astronauts
An Alternate Patch Design Created by Astronauts | Source

Other Superstitions

Other superstitions include umbrellas, Friday the 13th, the unlucky number 13, and many more...The number 13 is known to be an unlucky number probably because Judas was the 13th guest at the "Last Supper", and Christ was crucified on a Friday. The number 13 has a long history of being an unlucky number. The fear of Friday the 13th is known as "friggotriskaidekaphobics, or a person who fears Friday the 13th suffers from paraskevidekatriaphobia.

Umbrellas used as shades from the deified sun rays were considered magical. The sun god would be offended if umbrellas were opened inside, instead of being opened outside, because umbrellas opened inside would be out of the suns rays. Umbrellas opened inside meant impending death, ill fortune for the individual who opened it and the people who lived within the home. Cracks in the sidewalk: this superstition went "Crack, Crack, Don't Step on Your Mother's Back!" This saying was said usually when children would be playing hop scotch. Another version of this is: Step on a Crack, Break Your Mother's back! Children would then be careful not to step on any cracks in the sidewalk, or they'd be afraid of breaking their mother's back. The rationale behind not opening an umbrella inside is that if you do, you might accidentally break something, so it is not a good idea to open an umbrella inside the home.

Birthday Spankings, Sneezing, and More...

"Birthday spankings", birthday spankings may have originated in ancient Rome, where Romans would switch young girls, believing that the young girls would live longer and have more fertile lives. Ancient Germans would whip women and young girls for the same reason as the Romans. The Druids did the same thing as the Romans and ancient Germans for the same reason. This practice of the Romans, ancient Germans, and Druids may have resulted in birthday spankings-one spanking for each year of life, since birth, one to grow on, one to be good, one to live longer, one to have a good marriage on...etc. Blowing out all of the candles on your birthday cake got you your wish. Birthday spankings more than likely are not really a good idea. Nobody really likes to be spanked.

Another superstition is about "sneezing", or "Ahh-Choo!", and the blessing: "God Bless You!" This superstition about sneezing, comes from an old belief that a person's soul could leave their body through the mouth when they sneeze. The sneezing would make a person's soul vulnerable to evil spirits by ejecting the soul to where they were, so the blessing: "God Bless You!' was used to counteract this. A few more superstitions are when you cross your fingers wishing for good luck, and playing tug of war with someone else using a wishbone from a turkey. The one who gets the biggest part of the wishbone after pulling it apart, gets their wish.


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