One Busy Guy presents...
All About Superstition
Find a penny pick it up and all the day you'll have good luck!
Boo! Why do we cross our fingers for luck? Why do we knock on wood or avoid passing beneath ladders? Who knows what evil may befall us if we leave our hat on the bed or open an umbrella in the house? Heaven forbid a black cat should cross our path on Friday the 13th!
Superstition was a very early and effective form of training. Most common superstitions are rooted in concepts that will save us from reckless endangerment. We cover our mouths when yawning (it's sanitary), don't walk under a ladder because something may fall on your head! Nearly all superstition is rooted in religious symbolism... the holy trinity, 13 diners at the last supper, the 4 gospels etc. Superstition continues to provide support, increase optimism and give most of us hope for yet another day. It helped the earliest people formulate some justification for the way things have occurred.
Superstition is evident in every area of human interest. Planetary motion, gardening, romance, fashion, nature, theater... the list goes on:
Crossing fingers for luck is actually an abbreviated form of blessing yourself with the sign of the cross.
The early Druids would knock on wood to gain support from the good spirits within.
A rabbit's foot is considered lucky in part due to the animals prolific reproductive capacity. Holding a part of the animal is considered to bring good fortune and it is in this way that superstition can be a detriment. Great superstition still surrounds the rhinoceros horn and the animal has been driven almost to extinction.
Lighting three cigarettes on a single match apparently comes to us from WWI. A match lighted so long would provide an enemy ample time to 'sight you in'.
It is said that an open umbrella in the house may cause a fire (by toppling a candle) but it is more likely to poke out an eye.
The number 13 is unlucky if you are referencing the Last Supper, but it's good news if you're buying pastry! This particular superstition is evident in any high rise... there is no 13th floor (we skip from 12 to 14).
Before there were mirrors there were gazing pools. If eyes are indeed windows of the soul it would be very mean indeed to disrupt a gazing pool while in use. Of course when mirrors were first manufactured they were very expensive and it would likely take seven years to buy one anew.
Covering all your mirrors immediately after a death is said to prevent the deceased from using them as a portal. A mirror placed opposite your door will reflect any evil that might try to enter.
The Japanese believe that the number 8 is lucky and the eighties were certainly fortunate for them. The Chinese believe that one should not place the door of a house too close to the street because your money will pour out! Many Jewish homes still feature a 'mezzuzah' or good luck charm affixed to the door jamb at the entrance... it keeps out evil spirits.
It is certainly true that superstition is here to stay. It is an integral part of life as we know it. We all favor good luck charms and possess behaviors or trinkets that give us hope or confidence. The reality of superstition has given us witch trials and wedding rituals and holiday traditions.
At times we are thrilled to receive that little bit of hope, while at other times we feel empowered to commit dreadful, arbitrary acts of cruelty. Is superstition good or evil? You must decide for yourself!