Superstitions can be described best by common irrational beliefs in the fact that certain signs indicate what the future has installed for us. For example, the people consider that certain dates in the calendar like Friday the 13th or black cats crossing our path determine their luck to go bad. From a rational point of view, there is no logical connection between these events and a person’s luck, which essentially involves statistical probabilities for various events to occur. Let’s examine a few of these superstitions in our top 10 list.
1. When Friday falls on the 13th day of the month, it’s always unlucky
However silly this is, the superstition regarding Friday the 13th is probably the most famous one in the world. Although there are slight variations and theories on the reason why it caught on, the generally accepted hypothesis comes from the Christian religion. To put it simply, it is said that Judas was the thirteenth person to arrive at the Last Supper and also that Jesus Christ’s crucifixion was carried out on a Friday evening. The superstition has such a tremendous impact on people that you can nowadays find several airplane companies omitting the 13th row on their jets and buildings lacking the 13th floor.
2. There is a connection between itchy palms and financial gains/losses
Nobody really knows the original reason to why many seem to think that an itchy left palm indicates that you will spend or waste money while an itchy right palm is an indicator for financial gains. However, there is a mention of it in one of Shakespeare’s most popular works, Julius Caesar. In this play, the character Brutus accuses Cassius in a subtle manner by saying that he is forever burdened with itchy palms. Another interesting thing about this fallacy is that scratching your itch counters the effects, irrespective of which palm it is.
3. You should not walk under ladders unless you want your day to turn bad
You have to admit that it is in fact a good idea to avoid open ladders unless you want to take the chance of something dropping on you. While common sense is one explanation for the origins of this false notion, the other is that the open ladder is the symbol of life in many mythologies. Therefore, transcending the symbol is viewed as tempting fate and even angering ghostly spirits. There is also a way to counter the presumed bad luck that follows: putting your thumb in between the middle and index fingers. Christians also believe that the sign of the cross can deliver them from misfortune.
4. The 7 years of bad luck brought on you by breaking a mirror
True, breaking a mirror is bad luck because you will either have to replace it in case it’s your own or pay for the damages. At the same time, you can cut yourself on the glass. Either way, breaking a mirror is not the luckiest thing that can happen to you, but it’s not the worst. The origins of the superstition can also be found in mythology, when the ancients used to consider the image in the mirror as a reflection of the soul. Since breaking it meant that you are virtually shattering the soul, they chose 7 (another fatidic number just like 13) years for the time it needs to recover. It is said that you can reverse the bad luck if you dig a hole by the light of the moon and bury the shattered pieces of the mirror.
5. When you find a horseshoe, your luck is about to change for the better
A variation of this belief is that it is even better to find a horseshoe with the upper part pointing away from you. In any case, to benefit from the luck, the horseshoe can either be spat on and tossed over the shoulder or hanged at the entrance of your residence. However, while in the old days, metal was rare and finding the horseshoe could be considered lucky, nowadays there are better things you could find on the street. Like money, for example.
6. Don’t open the umbrella inside, not even to check if it still works
You probably shouldn’t open the umbrella indoors, but basically because you don’t need to protect yourself from the rain/sun and due to the fact that the sudden action is bound to knock something over. The umbrella myth comes from the early religions that worshiped the Sun god, when people believed that opening it indoors and away from direct sunlight is an offense to him.
You have the druidic culture to thank for this superstition that suggests bad luck can be countered by knocking on wood. Due to the fact that their idea of divinity involved nature and the trees were their gods, knocking on wood was considered a form of physical contact with them which brought along good fortune.
8. Toss spilled salt over the shoulder, but don’t let the waiter see you
The condiment that makes our food taste better is also a valued weapon in the battle against evil spirits thanks to its purification and warding capabilities. Therefore, tossing it over the shoulder is supposed to create a magical barrier that will keep your safe from harm. Even after walking under the ladder!
9. Black cats crossing your path
The poor cats get blamed for people’s misfortune on a daily basis because during the Dark Ages, these animals were presumably the companions of magic wielders, like warlocks and witches. Another theory suggests that the black cats themselves became witches and devils after seven years. A fun fact is that this superstition is so powerful that even Napoleon and Hitler were frightened by it.
10. God bless you for sneezing
With a grim origin, the habit of saying “God bless you” comes from the time when the black plague devastated Europe because sneezing was one of the first symptoms. The saying was simply a way to wish the sick person the best of luck with his condition.