Sunday, August 2, 2020

13 of the World's Most Common Superstitions and Their Bizarre Origins part 2 of 2

This week is part 2 of my 2-part blog about superstitions and their origins. Last week I covered number one through six (in no particular order). Now, let's take a look at the rest of the list.

7. Crossing your fingers:

This one has two meanings with numerous possibilities about the origin of the "good luck" version. Some theories say that crossed fingers were used by early Christians to identify each other when their religion was still illegal in the Roman empire, that crossed fingers were a way to ward off witches, and that medieval archers crossed their fingers when pulling their bow back for better accuracy. The other version—the idea that crossing your fingers means you don't believe what you say and are lying—may have also originated from a belief in witches. It was believed that the act of crossing your fingers was a way to swear an oath to the devil without actually giving up your soul.

8. Toasting with water:

Raising a glass in celebration should be a show of good faith regardless of what is in the glass. However, if it's water, the opposite is true. When toasting someone with water, it actually means you're wishing death upon them. The ancient Greeks were the first to warn of this practice, as they would only toast with water to honor the dead. This belief stemmed from the myths that drinking the water from the River Lethe served to help the souls of the Underworld pass on.

9. Being third on a match:

Historical origins for this superstition are set in World War I. It was a conventional wisdom among soldiers in the trenches that if you kept a match lit long enough for three people to light their cigarette from it, the enemy would spot the flame and determine your position. Soldiers brought the belief back with them, but there's evidence to suggest that after the war, match companies rather cynically helped popularize the superstition to sell more matches.

10. Stepping on a crack will break your mother's back:

It's been popularly suggested that this superstitious saying has evolved from a more racist 19th-century version of the rhyme, but historians suggest that both versions probably came about at the same time. The rhyme is likely an American formulation of a long-held British superstition in which stepping on pavement cracks represents crossing other unseen lines that will have bad consequences.

11. Tossing spilled salt over your left shoulder:

You've probably seen some people do this, but do you really need to be tossing seasoning at the dinner table? According to superstition, if you don't, the devil standing over your shoulder is sure to stick around. The basis for this superstition is as practical as it is religious, as salt was once considered extremely valuable—in some cultures it was actually a form of money. Only someone under the influence of evil would waste such a priceless resource. Tossing it over your left shoulder and into the devil's face prevents further temptation.

12. Knocking on wood:

Have you ever told a friend you're hoping for some good news? Or that you really hope something terrible doesn't happen? You better find the nearest wooden table or chair and knock twice, or else you're going to be in for a bad time. That's because early pagans believed that trees contained fairies, spirits, and other mystical creatures. By knocking on wood, they believed these creatures would grant them good luck or even keep evil spirits from influencing their lives.

13. The number 13:

And finally, the number thirteen itself. Friday the thirteenth is considered the unluckiest day of the year. Most tall buildings are built without a designated thirteenth floor. Of the infinite combinations of numbers in existence, why is thirteen so universally feared? Norse mythology is the culprit. In one legend, Loki, the god of mischief, was the thirteenth guest at a feast in Valhalla and caused the death of Balder, god of light and purity. The evils of thirteen later became associated with the Last Supper, as Judas was the thirteenth guest.

 I could have eliminated one of the superstitions and restricted the list to only twelve, but presenting a list of thirteen superstitions seemed more appropriate.  :) 


D. V. STONE said...

Toasting you with coffee ☕
D. V.

Samantha Gentry said...

D.V.: Coffee...Wine...I guess it depends on time of day. :)

Thanks for your comment.