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Superstition - Supernatural Beliefs

Updated on October 2, 2016
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I have been interested in social issues, how relationships work and advances made in safer living conditions for many years.

Are you Superstitious?

Are you superstitious? If you think you aren’t, do you walk under ladders, cross you fingers or open umbrellas indoors? Do you believe in good or bad luck? Superstition can be beliefs that you were taught as a youngster, prophesies, luck, magic tricks, etc.

Superstition can be any strongly held belief that is not truly reality, but we still believe because of the way our brain is wired. It tends to add information that isn’t really there. According to Wikimedia a superstition is “the belief in a supernatural casualty-that one event causes another without any natural process linking the two events-such as astrology, religion, almonds, witchcraft, etc.”

Black Cat

Source

Top 10 Superstitions

The 10 most popular superstitions include:

  1. Itchy palms refer to someone who is greedy or a left itchy palm may mean that money is coming your way.
  2. Four leaf Clover’s are good luck.
  3. “God Bless You” - This is often said after someone sneezes as it is polite, but its origins are actually found during the bubonic plague from the erroneous belief that the soul would actually escape from the body and the heart would momentarily stop during the sneeze, so saying “God Bless You” actually helped the person return back to life.
  4. Breaking a mirror means seven years of bad luck. I hope this isn’t true because I am certainly doomed if this is the case.
  5. Knock on wood - People say this when they make a hopeful statement, but the root of this ancient belief is that good spirits live in trees so perhaps being a tree hugger is a good thing.
  6. A Rabbit’s foot is lucky - this can also be traced back to the seventh century BC as the left hind foot of a rabbit that was shot would be taken for good luck. This is obviously not looking for the rabbit.
  7. Brooms have many superstitions associated with them and one is if you get a new home you want to sweep the dirt out of the new home with a new broom. If you sweep the dirt with an old broom you will be sweeping out any good luck. This doesn’t make much sense to me either.
  8. Never open an umbrella indoors - This superstition began when people used umbrellas for protection from the sun, so once a person had the umbrella open in the house, it was an insult to the Sun God.
  9. Wishing upon a star - Europeans believed that the gods occasionally peered down, and when this occurred the sky would move in a star would escape and fall down. In addition, Greeks believed that the stars were falling human souls. Any way you look at it I think wishing upon a star is not something I’ll be doing in the near future.
  10. 13 is an unlucky number - The number 13 is been associated with bad luck in many architects still refuse to design stairways with 13 steps, and there are even buildings without a 13th floor. There is actually a phobia that has been created to describe the fear of the number 13, which is called Triskaidekaphobia. I do not know when the superstition began.

Why Are We Superstitious?

In some religions they use snakes as part of their service, which must be linked to the superstition that something good will happen, but it is certainly freaks me out. Most superstitions are less dangerous. Some people throw salt over their shoulder if some is spilled.

My husband told me to never wash clothes on New Year’s Day or I would be washing someone out of my life in the coming year. While I don’t typically wash clothes on any holiday, this saying was one I had not heard. This is a saying he had heard as a child.

I have known people who carry around a rabbit’s foot or some other object that they think brings them good luck. Many people have a favorite number they always use. Some people wear the same jersey to play in some game of sports if they won a game previously. They consider it to be a "lucky shirt". There are numerous examples, obviously.

Rituals, habits and beliefs that control our actions are the basis for superstitions. We often don’t believe in these superstitions but follow them anyway as we have this attitude of “Why take a chance?” We all believe or learn from patterns. If you touch a hot a stove and burn your finger, you will probably not make that mistake twice. Learning from these happenings is what keeps us safe. This is not quite the same as a superstition, but the same learning principle applies.

Song Superstition

Rabbit Foot

skeptiseum.org
skeptiseum.org

Summary

It think without a doubt that most people probably have a few superstitions, but I doubt they rule the lives of the majority of the population.

The National Geographic station has been presenting shows about the brain, which are very interesting. There is one on Superstition, which you might find very interesting. Each of the Brain Game shows has been informative about the way the brain works. Superstitions are certainly an interesting topic, whether you watch the show or hopefully enjoyed my hub.

Superstition

How does superstition play a role in your life?

See results

© 2014 Pamela Oglesby

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  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    bodylevive, I think people much more inclined to be superstitious years ago, but I guess not walking under a ladder, for instance, is just good common sense. Thanks for your comments.

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    BODYLEVIVE 2 years ago from Alabama, USA

    I am not superstitious but my mom sure was. I guess it had a lot to do with the era she was born in. Back then, it's all people had was songs and folklore.

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    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    DzyMsLizzy, It is not a problem to me. I have read some older hubs just because I am interested in the topic, then realize I have read them before. Have a good day.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile image

    Liz Elias 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Ooops--I commented, then realized I had already done so 4 months back!! Sorry for the duplication; feel free to delete the recent one!

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    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    poetryman, I love you sense of humor. Superstition can be interesting to talk about, but not to rule your life. Thanks for the comments.

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    poetryman6969 2 years ago

    I have never understood how the rabbit's foot could possibly be lucky since as you point out it was not lucky for the rabbit.

    I can see how horse shoes could be lucky. Imagine NOT getting a hot piece of iron nailed to your foot.

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    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    Patricia, I am recovering well, thanks. I appreciate your comments and it is always good to hear from you. God Bless.

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    Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

    I think that maybe I have been supersititious to a point about some things. I have even defied the fates and walked under a ladder, allowed a black cat to cross my path and others. To me it is just kind of fun.

    I do have a ring that was my Momma's that I wear all the time...I do call it my good luck ring. Silly I guess.

    Hoping you are recovering nicely, Pamela.

    Angels are on the way to you ps

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    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    Farmloft, I think we used superstitions as a game when I was young also. I remember something about holding one of your buttons when passing a cemetery. It all sounds silly now. I had forgotten those until you reminded me. Thanks for your comments.

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    farmloft 2 years ago from Michigan

    Superstitions are fun to think about if you don't take it too far. They were more like games. Growing up we used to think we had to hold our breath while driving by a cemetery and turn around if a black cat crossed the path in front of us. And say someone's name 3 times to avoid a bad luck curse.

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    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    Lori. I think that is so true. Thanks for your comments.

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    Lori Chidori Phillips 2 years ago from Southern California USA

    If you believe superstitions are nonsense, then they are nonsense. Anyway, your beliefs should empower you, not weaken or manipulate you through fear. Most superstitions are like old wives' tales.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    Jo, I am glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate your comments.

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    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    MsLizzy, You make some good points, and I would not want to base my actions in life on old superstitutions. I do remember as a child that I would not step on a crack in the sidewalk. I have out grown that nonsense. Thanks fo your comments.

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    Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

    Audry, That is probably the perfect attitude. Thanks for your comments.

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    Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

    The only superstition I have about walking under a ladder is the fear it'll fall while I'm under it ;) You've certainly covered the subject well and left us all thinking!

    Voted up, useful, and interesting.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile image

    Liz Elias 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Oh, there are SO many of these! You've obviously done your homework, but have really just scratched the surface. I think it is all rubbish, and I've altered the word, and call them "stupidstitions!"

    I cannot believe that reasonable adults believe this kind of tripe in this day and age. But many do. I friend of mine in days past had a broom superstition--a variant on your explanation--that if you bring your old broom when you move, you bring your old (bad) luck with you.

    And logically, any dropped item would have to do some pretty spectacular acrobatics to land UNDER a ladder; it's more likely to go off behind the person, so you're probably actually safer walking under that ladder! (With the exception of liquids, like paint--which would pretty much go everywhere anyway!)

    Voted up, interesting and useful.

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    Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

    I am not superstitious--and yet, as I say that, I am cognizant that I shouldn't tempt fate!

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    James, I think walking under a ladder is probably safer, even though it has been referred to as bad luck. If something falls on your head that is pretty bad luck! I am glad you enjoyed and commented on my hub. You are always appreciated.

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    James W. Nelson 3 years ago from eastern North Dakota

    Hi, Pamela! Interesting hub. I did vote, chose the last one, and I've been trying to think if I have any. As a child I had a lot of beliefs. And about walking under a ladder, normally I wouldn't but the reason would be avoiding something landing on my head, so I suppose that is a superstition.

    thanks for a good hub!

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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Audry, I am glad you enjoyed the humor of the hub, as you are right about laughing. I see children laughing and think it is kind of sad that as adults we seldom have those great belly laughs of our youth. Thanks so much for your comments. Blessings to you also.

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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Maria, I doubt there are negative consequences to wishing on a star. Some things are just fun or maybe just old harmless habits. I avoid ladders, but that seems quite practical to me. Thanks so much for your comments.

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    Audrey Selig 3 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    I like your hub of course. I always like them. This hub even had some humor which we all need I know a young man who is very superstitious, and it drives him crazy. I know one. You are not to see the bride before wedding ceremony. Your hub relaxed me at bedtime. Thanks for sharing. Blessings. Audrey.

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    Maria Jordan 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

    Dear Pam,

    What an interesting subject, with equally interesting comments generated. Hoping you would play Stevie Wonder - perfect!

    I also thought it was so cool to have a rabbit's foot key chain as a kid, feeling very magical about it all...

    I will block out your "reasonable" explanation for wishing on a star...because this is a habit I can't quit after all these years - no matter what the consequences (LOL)...

    ...but I will continue to avoid the cracks and stepping under ladders for both practical and superstitious purposes.

    Voted UP & UABI. Great job. Love, Maria

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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Ms Dora, New Year's day should be a fun, family time anyway, so that sounds like a good superstitution. Thanks so much for your comments.

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    Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

    It's good to be aware of these superstitions even if we don't think that we believe in them. If we don't take them seriously, they're funny. In my home, the New Years Day superstition is that whatever you do on that day, you'd be doing all year, so we refrain from hard work (we try).

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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    BPOP, Thanks so much for your comments.

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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Michael, I don't like the idea of being superstitious, and since childhood I am not superstitious either. I am glad you found the hub helpful. I appreciate your comments.

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    breakfastpop 3 years ago

    I guess I am a bit superstitious, but it doesn't affect my life. Great hub. Voted up and interesting.

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    molometer 3 years ago

    Hi Pamela,

    I have always considered it unlucky to be superstitious. ; )

    It is weird that people still have these ideas and your explanation of why they may have arose is quite illuminating.

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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Kaili, It souuncds like this hub brought back old memories for you. Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

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    Kaili Bisson 3 years ago from Canada

    Great hub. My mother was quite superstitious; a piece of thread on your clothes meant you were going to get a letter, shoes on the bed bad luck and on it went. Put a smile on my face...voted up!

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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Jo, I had some type of virus on my computer. I have corrected the duplicate words 3 times in the past two days. I hope the problem is solved. Very frustrating!

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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Jo, I think that is a good reason not to walk under a ladder and I do the same. Thanks for the comments.

    Diana, I think we love those things as children. I appreciate your comments.

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    Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

    I remember having a rabbit's foot keychain when I was a child was the cool thing. Even though we knew it was pretend, it was fun to think about the possibilities.

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    Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

    I'm not superstitious, but I will avoid walking under a ladder, not because it's bad luck, but because building materials may fall on my head. :) I think some superstition are common sense, while others are simply weird. Great hub. I was about to send you a message, but I see Jodah have beaten me to it.

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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Lori, Excellent poin. Thanks for your comments.

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    Lori Chidori Phillips 3 years ago from Southern California USA

    Just a word of caution regarding superstitions. Don't let fear be your guide.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Aicia, It seems we all have some little thing we do out of habit. I appreciate your comments.

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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Amelia, I think of money when my palm itches also, although I have never had any money arrive after that. lol Thanks for your comments.

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    Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

    This is an interesting hub, Pamela. I wouldn't say that I was very superstitious, but I do knock on wood! Thanks for sharing the information about different superstitions.

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    Amelia Griggs 3 years ago

    Good and interesting hub, Pamela. There are so many superstitions and it's interesting what people believe, like we were conditioned to believe these things. I remember the stepping on the crack, walking under ladder and don't open the umbrella. When my palm is itchy, I still think of money.

    Thanks and Regards,

    Amelia

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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Phyllis, I believe there is a difference between the two also even though I referred to both in this hub. I was trying to point out how easy it is to do some general questioning to get a reading. I think there are true clairvoyants also. I have had a couple of experience that defy explanation from any other source also, plus my great grandfather could levitate things as large as tables. There are many unexplained things in this world, and much we do not understand fully. I am glad you brought this topic up, just to clarify. Thanks for your comments.

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    Phyllis Doyle Burns 3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

    Hi Pamela. I did have some superstitions when young because my Mother was so superstitious and always told us not to do certain things (stepping on a crack, etc.) I believe there is a lot of difference between superstitions (folk lore) and psychic abilities. Clairvoyance and other psychic abilities are of a higher level, from the spirit. I do not know much about the Long Island Medium, whether she is really psychic or not -- I do not place any faith in those who create shows for money. There is one exception for me though about that -- I believe John Edwards is a true and sincere clairvoyant. I am clairvoyant in many ways so I know that is much different than superstitions.

    This is a very interesting hub.

  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Ruby, I guess we all did some of those things. I had forgotten the needle until today. lol is right. Thanks for the comments.

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    Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

    Interesting topic Pam. I remember not stepping on a crack when i was a kid. Funny how we believe in nutty superstions. I also remember the threaded needle. lol

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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Lori, Beliefs are probably more powerful and difficult to change, but some people hand on tight to their superstitions also, although I think this is less common. You make some good points. I appreciate your comments.

    incomeguru, I had not heard of that one. My step-daughter is pregnant. I don't know if she would appreciate me jumping over her, but it does make me smile.

    When I was a girl we held a threaded needle over our hands and watched it go back and forth our other hand. The number of times it moved was suppose to predict the number of children we would have. Mine moved 3 times and I physically stopped it. Interestingly enought, I had 3 boys and got a tubal ligation. I jsut remembered that!

    Thanks so much for your comments.

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    Oyewole Folarin 3 years ago from Lagos

    When I was young I use to believe superstition. There was this superstition that if you jump across a pregnant woman, the baby when delivered would resemble you.

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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Scarface, That sounds like a close call with the salt. I have seen people do this also. Thanks so much for your comments.

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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Shanna, I have also heard of the black-eyed pea belief. I've tried it and haven't been impressed with its power. Thanks so much for your comments.

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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Jodah, I will correct that immediately. I write on Word, then copy and paste, so probably I was interrupted and messed up, but I did reread the hub, so it could be old age! Thanks for letting me know. I think walking under a ladder isn't too wise as you may get something dropped on your head! I am glad you enjoyed the hub and appreciate the comments.

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    Scarface1300 3 years ago

    Informative and well written hub. I often recall my mother throwing salt over her shoulder that may have brought her good luck but nearly blinded me on one occasion. haha.

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    Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

    Pamela, I never heard of the superstition about not doing laundry on New Year's Day. I have heard, however, that eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is supposed to bring good fortune to the new year.

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    Lori Chidori Phillips 3 years ago from Southern California USA

    There is a fine but definite line between beliefs and superstitions. Superstitions are a type of belief. Beliefs are powerful, indeed, as they drive thoughts and behavior so beliefs are creative forces in life. Superstitions are similar but weaker. You can change a superstitious belief more easily than other more firmly grounded beliefs. However, very strong superstitions can create as well.

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    John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

    Hi Pamela. Very interesting hub. I do have a few superstitions but they don't play a big part in my life eg. I try to avoid walking under a ladder, and I have a lucky number 6, my birthdate. I hope itchy palms bring money, but there is some conjecture over which one attracts it and which one means you have to pay out. (Oh in your capsule titled "Why Are We Superstitious?" you have repeated the two paragraphs.) Voted up. Thanks for sharing.

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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Jackie, I always avoided a crack also. I hadn't thought of that one. Thanks for your comments.

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    Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

    I use to as a kid too like avoiding a crack and I will admit even today I do if I am conscious of it.

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    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Billy, Thanks so much for your comment. I remember doing some things when I was young also but no longer. I'm glad I made you think about your youth.

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    Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I had to think about this. When I was younger, playing sports, I was superstitious. Now, I really don't think I am. I can't think of a superstition I follow or believe in....but you made me stop and think, and that's the sign of a good article.