UPDATED: Mar 26, 2020
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Knock on wood, don’t step on the crack, cross your fingers. These are all examples of superstitions. If you’re like most people, you occasionally participate in superstitious thinking or behavior often without even realizing you’re doing it. Superstitions assign supernatural origins to things that we don’t understand. Exactly where do these strange superstitions come from and why do we still participate in them?
Wanting more control or certainty is the driving force behind most superstitions. We tend to look for some rule or an explanation for why things happen. Below are a few examples of superstitious behavior we still partake in today.
Walking Underneath Ladders
This superstition has its roots in religion. Some Christians believe that any object with three points, like a ladder leaning against a house, represents the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Early Christians believed that to disrupt the three points by walking through it was expressing disbelief in the Trinity and therefore bad luck. Today people still avoid walking under ladders, but this is most likely to avoid the bad luck of having tools dropped on our head from someone working above.
Crossing Black Cats
The dread of black cats first arose in the Middle Ages. Alleycats were often fed by poor, lonely old ladies, and when witch hysteria struck Europe, and many of these homeless women were accused of practicing black magic, their cat companions were deemed guilty of witchery by association. Since then, it is considered bad luck if a black cat crosses your path.
Breaking a mirror is supposed to curse you with seven years bad luck. This superstition comes from the old belief that mirrors don’t just reflect your image, but contains bits of your soul. The beginnings of this belief might also lie in the fact that when mirrors were first made of glass, they were so expensive that anyone who broke a mirror was indentured as a servant to the owner of the mirror for seven years if he could not afford to replace it.
Opening Umbrellas Indoors
An umbrella, according to popular superstition, should never be open indoors or you will bring bad luck on all the people residing in the building. It is thought that this superstition originates back when the purpose of the umbrella was to act as a sunshade. If opened indoors the action may be construed as a direct insult to the sun, who will undoubtedly bring his wrath down on the offender.
Superstitions are, for the most part, relatively harmless. It’s when they become ingrained in your everyday life that they become a problem. It is not okay to let superstition dictate how you live your life. Superstitious thoughts that unreasonably control the way we act can lead to unwarranted stress, anxiety, and even Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Don’t let superstition lead the way. We cannot protect ourselves from every little mishap. But, knock on wood, we do have term life insurance to protect our families after we are gone.