From avoiding walking under ladders to carrying a rabbit’s foot for good luck; why do we do the things we do? What is the origin of many of our most common superstitions?
25. It’s bad luck to open an umbrella indoors
Even though many people believe that this superstition started with the Pharaohs in ancient Egypt, most historians trace the belief back to Victorian times when the poorly designed umbrellas of the time would have been a very legitimate hazard indoors.
Egyptians regarded triangles as sacred and since a ladder resting against a wall forms a triangle it was not ok for someone to walk through it.
23. Broken mirrors lead to seven years of bad luck
Looking into the mirror to predict the future was a practice used in ancient Greece and was called catoptromancy. Having a distorted reflection was considered a really bad sign. Later the Romans taught the idea that people have 7 year cycles of good health and then bad health. Combine those two traditions and the modern superstition is born.
22. When you spill salt, toss some over your left shoulder to avoid bad luck
Tossing spilled salt over your left shoulder started around 3,500 BC by the Sumerians. After that the tradition spread to the Egyptians, Assyrians, and later the Greeks.
21. Knock on wood to prevent Disappointment
Even though this is a very common superstition, historians are unsure what the true origins are. They believe it is possible that the habit comes from touching a wooden crucifix while taking an oath.
20. Hang a horseshoe on your door with the open end up for good luck
During the middle ages many people thought that witches feared horses and would stay away from any sign of them. Because of this the people would put horseshoes on their barns during the summer.
Originally because of ancient Egyptians cats were considered good luck. But when King Charles the I mourned the loss of his cat he decided that his luck was gone. Now people all over the world believe the sight of a black cat is bad.
18. The number 13 is Unlucky
Also known as triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13 originates back to Norse mythology when 12 Gods were said to be having dinner when Loki, the God of strife and evil, crashed the party and ultimately caused the death of Balder, one of the Gods.
17. Finding a four leaf clover is lucky
In ancient times the Celts believed that four leaf clovers were powerful objects and that they could be used to ward off evil.
16. Wishing upon a shooting star
In the first century Ptolemy theorized that shooting stars resulted from gods peering down on the Earth. While the gods were looking people would send their wishes and hope that they would hear them.
15. Holding your breath while passing a cemetery
Normally this is attributed to the connection between breathing and living. However in some Native American cultures breathing near the dead was risky because you might accidentally inhale someone’s soul.
14. Throwing coins in a fountain for luck
Originally this was practiced by the ancient Romans and then was also used by the Celts. Many theorize that it was to appease the water gods.
Blowing out the seeds of a dandelion originated in Celtic Mythology. It was believed that dandelions could cure diseases and would bring about good fairies.