Are you superstitious? Do you cringe when someone knocks over the salt? Are you weary of the number 13? Well you are not alone. Many people around the world hold some form of superstition. From black cats to stairs superstitions come in all form, shape and sizes. However, where did they all come from? Today we’re going to try and answer that to the best of our abilities. So don’t wish us “Good luck” as we present to you these 25 surprising origins of today’s most popular superstitions.
Spilling salt has been considered unlucky for thousands of years. Around 3,500 B.C., the ancient Sumerians first took to nullifying the bad luck of spilled salt by throwing a pinch of it over their left shoulders. This ritual spread to the Egyptians, the Assyrians and later, the Greeks.
Hang a horseshoe on your door open-end-up for good luck
The belief in the horse shoe’s magical powers can be traced back to the Greeks, who thought the element iron had the ability to ward off evil. Not only were horseshoes wrought of iron, they also took the shape of the crescent moon. For the Greeks, the crescent moon was a symbol of fertility and good fortune.
Four Eleven Forty Four
The roots of this popular music superstition can be traced to the illegal lottery known as “policy” in 19th-century America. Numbers were drawn on a wheel of fortune, ranging from 1 to 78. A three-number entry was known as a “gig” and a bet on 4, 11, 44 was popular by the time of the Civil War. The stereotypical player who picked this gig was usually a poor African-American male, which explains why the use of the term «4-11-44» appears in many later blues and jazz recordings.
Knocking on Wood
Usually, when we speak of our own good fortune, we follow up with a quick knock on a piece of wood to keep our luck from going bad. But do you know where this superstition comes from? Many pagan groups and other cultures worshiped or mythologized trees. Some peoples used trees as oracles, some incorporated them into worship rituals and some, like the ancient Celts, regarded them as the homes of certain spirits and gods.
The number 13
Fear of the number 13, has its origins in Norse mythology. In a famous tale, 12 gods were invited to dine at Valhalla, the city of the gods. Loki, the god of strife and evil, crashed the party, raising the number of attendees to 13. The drama that followed between the attendants made number 13 a cursed number.