The Origin of Man and of His Superstitions

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Contents

  1. The Origin of Man and of his Superstitions - Scholar's Choice Edition
  2. Reward Yourself
  3. The fascinating history behind common superstitions - INSIDER

These beliefs were absorbed into Christianity when knocking on wood came to be associated with the protection of the cross. During the Spanish Inquisition of the 15th century, Jews fl ed to woodenbuilt synagogues and knocked in a specific way to be let in. Today it is commonly understood that bad luck does not occur if the umbrella has first been opened outdoors and then brought inside to dry. When miners in the north of England died in colliery accidents their shoes were placed on the family table as a mark of respect.

Putting any shoes, whether new or old, on a table was therefore seen as tempting fate. One theory states that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that 13 is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day. It concerns an unscrupulous broker who takes advantage of superstition to create a Wall Street panic on Friday One theory why fear of the number 13 known as triskaidekaphobia exists is that Judas was the 13th person to be seated at the Last Supper.

In Japan, if a hearse passes by, you must tuck in your thumbs to protect your parents. In Russia, whistling indoors is believed to bring bad luck but good luck comes if a bird defecates on you or your property the more birds involved the better. It is also considered very bad luck to receive an even number of yellow roses — yellow represents infidelity; an even number of the blooms is associated with premature death. In Argentina the surname of the former president Carlos Menem is considered a living curse after he brought about the economic crash of A broken mirror signified a break in the person?

In 15 th century Venice, Italy, when glass mirrors backed by silver coating were first produced, they were prohibitively expensive. Servants of the wealthy, who most often would be in the position of cleaning or moving a mirror, could never afford its replacement, if broken. The punishment or threat of breaking a mirror became that of having to serve for seven years as an indentured servant to the mirror?

During the mids, when England and France were finally able to manufacture mirrors inexpensively, the superstition about bad luck and broken mirrors was already solidified in the culture. It is noted that one way to avoid the bad luck associated with breaking a mirror is to take the broken pieces and bury them underground and under the moonlight. It is still believed by some that opening an umbrella indoors will bring bad luck. The origins of this superstition are not totally agreed upon, but some say it can be traced back to the early Egyptians.

Back then, umbrellas protected people mostly nobility or religious leaders from the heat of the sun, not from the rain and were thought to ward of spirits who might do them harm. To open one inside or even in the shade would offend the God of the Sun. It was also believed that the Egyptian goddess Nut Nuit enveloped the sky like a huge umbrella. The beautiful man-made umbrellas were fashioned with peacock feathers and papyrus and represented the goddess.

Because of their religious significance, they were usually held only over the noble classes. The shadow that surrounded the person underneath the umbrella was considered sacred, and if someone other than the nobility stepped on this space, it was considered sacrilegious. Oddly enough, the Babylonians considered it an honor for anyone to step into the shadow of a king? Others believe that the bad luck associated with opening an umbrella indoors came to be in 18 th century London, the time when waterproof umbrellas with metal spokes were popularized.

The Origin of Man and of his Superstitions - Scholar's Choice Edition

These umbrellas were awkward to open and were extremely large in size, which could cause injury to people or break objects if opened inside a house or in a small space. This could cause anger or arguments among family or friends, which was considered bad luck, or at least something to be avoided. Another variation on the superstition is that if rain is predicted on a given day, take an umbrella with you and it will not rain.

And if you leave the umbrella behind, it will definitely rain. It has also been noted that bad luck does not occur if the umbrella has first been opened outdoors and then brought inside to dry. And that bad luck is associated with an umbrella if it is the color black, was given as a gift, has never been used outside in the rain, is opened on a ship, or is dropped on the floor.

The superstition associated with walking under a ladder is that it will bring you bad luck. One origin of this superstition dates back to medieval times, in which the ladder symbolized the gallows?

Where do superstitions come from? - Stuart Vyse

So when someone walked under a ladder, it was believed that he would surely face his own death by hanging. And because people were hung at the top rungs of the ladder, it was thought that their spirits resided within the triangle that was formed by the leaning ladder, in other words, it formed a haunted area. Ladders were typically leaned up against the gallows and used to assist the person in charge of removing the dead bodies. By walking under the ladder during that time, it was assumed that a dead body could fall on you, causing injury or death.

Another origin of this superstition dates back to ancient Egypt. The Egyptians believed strongly in the power of the pyramids.

Even a ladder leaning against a wall symbolized a pyramid because of its triangular shape. If someone walked under it, they believed that the power of the sacred pyramid was broken. Yet another early belief about ladders was that when leaned triangularly against a wall, it signified the Holy Trinity? The action of walking under the ladder was considered blasphemy and a desecration of God. Additionally, it would invite the devil in. There are ways to undo the seemingly disastrous consequences. By walking back through the ladder, you can undo the harm and secure a second chance of better luck.

Also, crossing your fingers until you see a dog can fix the situation. The best belief is common sense. Jarring a ladder in any way might cause you to get hit by a falling object, or cause someone already on it to fall off. It is best to walk around it to ensure a better day.

If you choose to walk under one, use the crossing fingers method stated above. Misfortune and bad luck are thought to be the result of stepping on cracks in the pavement. It is usually associated with the saying:? Step on a crack and break your mother? However, this superstition originated back in the late 19 th and early 20 th century, unfortunately when racism was prevalent in society. The original unkind verse is believed to be either? Step on a crack and your mother? Step on a crack and your mother will turn black.? Due to the fact that inter-racial marriages were frowned upon by some, it was also common then to say that stepping on the pavement lines meant you would marry a black person and have a black baby.

In the mid th century, it was common to tell children that if they stepped on any cracks in the pavement they would be eaten for lunch by bears waiting for them around the corner. Another belief surrounding this superstition is that the number of cracks stepped on indicates the number of bones your mother would break. Also, it foretold the amount of china dishes that you would break. There is also a belief that the cracks in the ground or pavement lead directly to the underworld.

Thus by stepping on them, the evil demons that dwell there would be released and bring bad luck. To knock on wood or to touch wood is done to ward off unlucky consequences, get rid of evil spirits, to undo something that is said that could possibly tempt fate or to bring good luck. One can also knock on wood three times after talking about something lucky or serendipitous, in order to ward off the evil spirits who might purposely ruin it. It is believed by some that the superstition dates back to ancient pagan times and the belief that spirits or deities lived in trees, and knocking on the tree or touching it would acknowledge them and call upon them for protection from misfortune.

It was also seen as a thank-you gesture to the spirits or gods for bringing good luck and blessings. Irish folklore states that the act of touching wood sends a thank you to leprechauns for some good luck. The Greeks worshiped the Oak tree because it was sacred to Zeus and the Celts believed in spirits living in trees. Touching those trees brought good luck.

As many early pagan beliefs became part of Christian beliefs, this superstition may have been one of them. Some people believed that knocking on wood was associated with the Cross.

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A Jewish version of the superstition traces back to the Spanish Inquisition of the 15 th century. The Jews fled to wooden-built synagogues for refuge and came up with a specific knock code to be let in. These refuges saved many lives, and it then became common to knock on wood to bring good luck.

By the s, even children? By the s, the Americans and British were doing the same. Today, it is acceptable to knock on wood-like surfaces for good luck. There are times when people even knock on their own heads for luck when there is no wood around. The hearse is a most notorious icon of death and mourning. Numerous superstitions, gestures and beliefs are connected to this vehicle. Just the mere sight of a hearse can stir up many emotions about our own mortality.

Since the time of horse drawn hearses, a common belief was that if you saw a hearse, you would be the next to die. To avoid such a horrible curse, in Victorian times, it was believed that holding a button could ward off this demise. Others held a button until they saw a bird. Some people would go as far as to hold their breath, close their eyes and put their feet up in the air. Another old belief is that a hearse drawn by two horses especially white ones signified a death would happen in the neighborhood in the very near future.

One of the more interesting traditions about hearses passing by is taken from Japanese culture. Hiding one? The thumb is a representation of the?

Another superstition is based on which direction you see the hearse moving. If the hearse is moving toward you and empty, it is considered good luck in some parts of the United States.

In other areas of the U. On the other hand, if a hearse is empty and moving away from you, you are close to death. Some people believe that if they see their reflection in the window of a hearse, it is a bad sign. No matter what, a hearse is the sign of imminent death. Most people have some type of superstitions about seeing one, and most of us will be unable to avoid being the passenger in one way or another.

And by the way, you don? The development of sneezing superstitions came about due to early man? Breathing in was breathing in life. Sneezing was a swift release of that essence or soul. If the soul left the body through a sneeze, it was presumed the individual would die without his soul. The mysteries and superstitions surrounding sneezing most probably continued on from this point.

Although you may think it is merely the polite thing to do, blessing people after they sneeze is actually a very common superstition and is practiced all over the world. It is believed that saying? God Bless You? This plague seemed to be fatal to those who sneezed. So it followed that the sneeze represented certain illness and using? God Bless You,? Violent sneezing was noted to be one of the end-stage symptoms of it before death. Thus, the pope made it a law that anyone who sneezed must be blessed, as the individual?

During that same era, everyone was mandated to cover their mouths with their hand or a cloth, so as not to further spread the disease. There are other superstitions surrounding sneezing. When someone sneezed, it was either a sign of good fortune or an omen of bad luck. This dates back to the early Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. They believed that a sneeze was their own personal prophet, forewarning them of danger and forecasting future good and evil.

Additionally, one would be congratulated upon sneezing because the evil spirits were freed from embodiment. It was also believed at that time that a sneeze during a conversation revealed the truth of a statement. Even today, you may hear somebody say,? I sneezed on the truth.? In 17 th century England, if a sneeze was heard, it was customary for all who were nearby to remove their hats, curtsy or bow and wish? God Bless You.? As time went on, in the ? Sneeze on Sunday, your safety seek? Some other superstitions with respect to sneezing are commonly seen throughout the literature.

These include the following. It is good luck to sneeze between noon and midnight. It is bad luck to sneeze while getting dressed in the morning because bad luck will be with you during the day. It is a good omen for the whole family if the family cat sneezes.

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It is also good luck if two people sneeze at the same time. It is bad luck to turn your head to the left while sneezing, but good luck if you turn to the right. It is also bad luck to sneeze one or three times. However, sneeze twice and it is an omen of good luck. In Japan, sneezing once is that someone is speaking kindly about you, twice is that someone is not speaking highly of you and three times is that someone is speaking disparagingly about you and four times is the sign of a cold.

Physiologically speaking, a sneeze is a reaction to irritating foreign particles, allergies, illness or a cold. Another known fact is that sudden exposure to bright light can bring on a sneeze.

The fascinating history behind common superstitions - INSIDER

Overall, it is one of the body? Whether or not a sneeze has superstitious meaning is up to you. Crossing two fingers the middle and index finger is a very common superstition.? It is mainly done to ensure good luck and prosperity or to give courage and support to yourself or another individual. For triple good luck some people cross not only their fingers, but their arms and legs at the same time.

Some theories indicate that the origin of crossing the fingers dates as far back as the fourteenth century.? In the pre-Christian era, crosses for example, the Solar Cross, although there were many other variations of crosses at that time symbolized power and unity, and the middle of the cross represented all that was good. People made wishes on the mid-point of the cross to ward off evil so that nothing would get in the way of the wish they wanted to fulfill. That tradition evolved into crossing fingers between two people. One person would make a wish, the other person would help solidify the wish by putting his index finger onto the other person?

Later it evolved into a single gesture? It is also possible that during the Hundred Years? War, between France and England, before an archer would draw back his bow, he would cross the same two fingers that he would use on the bow to pray for good luck.