5 Superstitions and Why They Exist

5 Superstitions and Why They Exist

By Allison Ford, DivineCaroline

I was at work a few years ago when a coworker walking by my desk let out a  terrified squeal. “Your purse is on the floor! Don’t you know that’s bad luck?”  Apparently, she was referring to a superstition which holds that to place your  purse or wallet on the floor is to invite money troubles. I had never heard of  this old wives’ tale and didn’t lend it much credibility, but on my way home, I  did notice my lifelong habit of avoiding sidewalk cracks, surely a leftover from  a youthful urge to protect my mother’s spinal health.

Superstitions ascribe supernatural origins to things that  humans don’t understand, and they occur across the world. Early humans had a lot  that they didn’t understand, but modern people are much more enlightened.  Superstitions about bad luck feel like the kind of things we tell gullible  children, so why do I still see people knocking on wood, throwing salt over  their shoulders, and refusing to walk under ladders? Exactly where do these  strange superstitions come from, and do any have even the tiniest basis in  reality?

Don’t Spill the Salt! Salt is one of our most ancient and versatile foodstuffs,  used for preserving food as well as flavoring it. For most of history, it was  incredibly valuable, too, sometimes even used as currency. Spilling such a  precious commodity was akin to dumping the thirty-year-old Scotch down the  drain. For anyone who was careless enough to waste salt, throwing a pinch over  the left shoulder was said to keep the devil away, since he was sure to be  following you after such a grievous offense.

Walking Under Ladders Brings Bad  Luck This superstition has its roots in religion. Some Christians  believe that any object with three points—like a ladder leaning against a  house—represents the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Early  Christians believed that to destroy or subvert a three-pointed object (like by  walking through it) one was expressing disbelief in the Trinity, and would  therefore probably go to Hell. As religious conviction softened, the promise of  eternal damnation was relaxed to merely the threat of bad luck. I admit to  following the rule against walking under ladders, but for a more practical  purpose—I don’t care for things dropping on my head, as is wont to happen when  people are working above.

Un-Lucky Number Thirteen Plenty of otherwise rational  people are loath to schedule important events on the thirteenth of the month,  and many buildings and towns don’t even include a thirteenth floor or thirteenth  street, because so many people believe the number to be cursed. The origins of  this superstition are factually tenuous, and there are many theories about how  it came about. Christian theology teaches that Judas was the thirteenth guest at  the Last Supper, making him unlucky. Norse mythology states that the god Loki,  who was the thirteenth guest at a banquet, killed the hero, Balder. Not to  mention the fact that several serial killers have thirteen letters in their  name, like Charles Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer. Fear of the number thirteen even  has its own name, triskaidekaphobia, and many sufferers refuse to be the  thirteenth guest at a party, or to sit in row thirteen on an airplane for fear  that some terrible fate will befall them. In reality, there’s no credible  evidence to suggest anything sinister about any particular number, and in some  cultures, the number thirteen is actually considered quite lucky.

Shakespeare’s “Scottish Play” Many  actors refuse to say the name Macbeth, especially when they’re inside a theater.  The play is said to be cursed, and is usually referred to as simply, “The  Scottish Play.” Some accounts say that productions of Macbeth have been plagued  by an unusually high number of accidents, injuries, and deaths on- and offstage,  perhaps because the play itself is unusually ripe with fights, weapons, battles,  and opportunities for things to go wrong. Since the play features three witches,  some origin stories for the superstition say that the lines uttered by the  witches are real curses, that real witches were offended by the play and cursed  it, or that Shakespeare’s original prop master stole items from a real witches’  coven. The most likely explanation is that Macbeth, being one of the English  language’s most enduring pieces of drama, is often put on by theaters trying to  stave off bankruptcy, and the play eventually got a reputation as foreshadowing  a theater’s demise.

Sacred Sneezes
All cultures offer some sort of blessing  after a person sneezes. While the origins of the benedictions are muddled,  it seems certain that primitive people thought that a person’s soul could leave  the body through the nose, and asking for God’s protection was a way to prevent  its escape. Romans, however, believed that sneezing expelled demons, and  witnesses to a sneeze offered congratulations and support. During the sixth  century, there was a plague raging, and the populace thought that sneezing was a  symptom of impending death. Pope Gregory pronounced that the official response  to a sneeze would be “God bless you,” which was thought to invoke divine  protection for both the sneezer and the sneezed-upon.

A Little Humor – Signs That You Drink Too Much Coffee

Signs That You Drink Too Much Coffee

  • You answer the door before people knock.
  • Juan Valdez named his donkey after you.
  • You ski uphill.
  • You grind your coffee beans in your mouth.
  • You haven’t blinked since the last lunar eclipse.
  • You lick your coffeepot clean.
  • You’re the employee of the month at the local coffeehouse and you don’t even work there.
  • Your eyes stay open when you sneeze.
  • You chew on other people’s fingernails.
  • Your T-shirt says, “Decaffeinated coffee is the devil’s blend.”
  • You can type sixty words per minute… with your feet.
  • You can jump-start your car without cables.
  • No-Doze is a downer.
  • You don’t need a hammer to pound nails.
  • Your only source of nutrition comes from “Sweet & Low.”
  • You don’t sweat, you percolate.
  • You buy half-and-half by the barrel.
  • You’ve worn out the handle on your favorite mug.
  • You go to AA meetings just for the free coffee.
  • You walk twenty miles on your treadmill before you realize it’s not plugged in.
  • You forget to unwrap candy bars before eating them.
  • Charles Manson thinks you need to calm down.
  • You’ve built a miniature city out of little plastic stirrers.
  • People get dizzy just watching you.
  • You’ve worn the finish off your coffee table.
  • The Taster’s Choice couple wants to adopt you.
  • Starbucks owns the mortgage on your house.
  • Your taste buds are so numb you could drink your lava lamp.
  • Instant coffee takes too long.
  • When someone says “How are you?”, you say, “Good to the last drop.”
  • You want to be cremated just so you can spend the rest of eternity in a coffee can.
  • Your birthday is a national holiday in Brazil.
  • You’re offended when people use the word “brew” to mean beer.
  • You have a picture of your coffee mug on your coffee mug.
  • You can thread a sewing machine, while it’s running.
  • You can outlast the Energizer bunny.
  • You short out motion detectors.
  • You don’t even wait for the water to boil anymore.
  • Your nervous twitch registers on the Richter scale.
  • You think being called a “drip” is a compliment.
  • You don’t tan, you roast.
  • You can’t even remember your second cup.
  • You help your dog chase its tail.


Turok’s Cabana