I wouldn’t consider myself an extremely superstitious person, but I’d be lying if I didn’t believe in bits and pieces. I don’t know whether walking under a ladder is really bad luck or not, but for some reason I just find myself avoiding it whenever the situation arises. I mean, if Looney Tunes has taught me anything, it’s to avoid ladders. And anvils.
Another famous superstition in regards to luck refers to the misfortune that will befall anyone who breaks a mirror. Not your short term misfortune either. We’re talking 7 years of nothing but bad luck. Just thinking about how expensive mirrors were during the time this superstition was likely conceived can help shed a bit of light on its origins. If I were a mother back then, I’d definitely say things like that to my kids if they were horseplaying around with expensive fragile items.
“Hey, get away from that mirror! If you break that you’ll have 7 years of bad luck, you know!”
Then in my head, “ha, that’ll teach those little whippersnappers to play ball in the house.”
They say that a broken clock or a cracked crystal on a pocket watch or wristwatch is also believed to be a bad sign. Not surprisingly, these are also very expensive items that are as old as the superstitions themselves. The story even goes on to say that a broken watch symbolizes failure to progress in one’s work. Which would make sense… cause you’d be late to work and all sorts of bad luck would no doubt ensue. So again, the origins of such superstitions somewhat make sense. Some superstitions about luck aren’t as easily explained though.
Tell me if you’ve ever heard this one. Originating somewhere in the UK, it’s believed that by saying “rabbit” right after you wake up on the first day of the month, you’ll bring yourself good luck for the next 30 or so days. No matter how you say it; rabbit-rabbit, rabbits, white rabbit, run rabbit run, etc., it’s supposed to work.
What about knocking on wood? Another dumb superstition that I find myself doing from time to time. Okay fine, often. Do I necessarily believe in it? I have no idea, but at risk of jinxing myself, it’s easier to just tap on the table just in case. There are two big theories behind this one. One is that pagans believe spirits live in trees, so it was kind of used as a nod to them, for lack of better words. The other theory comes from Britain and mentions a popular children’s game called “Tiggy-touch-wood,” where the only way you were “safe” from the other children chasing you was when you were touching a piece of wood. Could the whole concept of knocking on wood for luck have really stemmed from a kid’s game? I wouldn’t be surprised. Though I favor the tree spirits myself.
From blowing out birthday candles, lucky horseshoes, throwing salt over your shoulder, breaking wishbones, and even picking up pennies (not tails up, that’s bad luck!), superstitions on luck abound. It’s hard to keep up with them all, and sometimes I just think people are having me on with some of these tales.
A bird pooping on you is supposed to be good luck. I know, I know, but it’s true. Or so I’m told. I don’t believe it. And I’ll tell you why. A bird pooped on my hand the other day. There I was, minding my own business, walking around the neighborhood, trying to get some air and exercise, and a bird decided to just poop on my hand. Cause, you know. That’s what I’m here for. Oh look, my friend said, a bird pooped on your hand! You’ll have good luck! No, Sharon, I have germs. Germs are what I have. You’re so lucky! No, I’m not lucky, I’m disgusted. And for your information, there was no luck to be had here. No luck at all. I mean, I guess it could’ve been worse. It could’ve been my head. Or my face as I turned it upward to see what the hell that freakin’ bird was doing. Maybe the bird just had bad aim. Maybe that’s where the good luck came in.
So, yeah. Superstitions stink.