Monthly Trivia Archives: October 2012

Week of October 28 – History of Superstitions

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Don’t Spill the Salt.  Salt is a preservative and it’s also known to be good for our wellbeing. Since salt is known to be a preservative and to fight decay, which is the providence of the devil, it’s no wonder that this spice became synonymous with good luck.  Spilling salt is said to be unlucky. However, if you do spill salt, the best way to ward of the effects of bad luck is to throw a pinch of salt over your left shoulder.

Why the left shoulder and not the right?  Our left side was thought by our ancestors to be our wicked side. It was said that evil lurked over your left shoulder, thus by throwing salt in that direction, you can dispel some of the ill effects of the spilled salt.

Why is a Horseshoe Associated with Luck? Apparently, iron is associated with strength. In fact, one superstition says that iron can ward off evil spirits. The shape of a horseshoe is also associated with luck because it’s a half circle or ‘U’, which in many cultures is the shape associated with good fortune and fertility.

Knock on Wood – Almost everyone is aware of this superstition. When things are going well in our lives, we often touch or knock on wood in the hopes that our luck will continue. The belief that things will eventually go wrong is an old one. The superstition that knocking on wood will ward against evil spirits goes back to the druids. In pagan times, wood was regarded as holy. After all, the gods created the wood, and so it must be holy, right?  Today, this belief stubbornly holds on, and very few of us haven’t done it at some point in their lives.

Broken Mirror is Worth Seven Years of Bad Luck – This is another persistent yet popular superstition. Almost everyone has heard the belief that if you break a mirror you’re going to get seven years of bad luck.

Out of all of the superstitions, this is probably the oldest one. Ever since man could see themselves in the reflective surface of water, we have believed that our reflection is a part of us or our spirit self. It only makes sense that if we break that reflection, we also break a part of ourselves, which inevitably leads to bad luck.

Why is it Unlucky to Open an Umbrella Indoors- You could boil this superstition down to a safety hazard turned superstition. When umbrellas first began using the spring mechanism that we take for granted today, they were very unpredictable. The person opening the umbrella never knew if the spring would work properly, and a lot of fingers were squished between the spring and the top of the umbrella frame.  On top of this, people were never sure how big the umbrella would be once unfurled. As a result, there were a lot of accidents within the house when the user opened the umbrella, only to realize too late that the umbrella was too big for the room. When such a mishap occurred, people used to exclaim that the umbrella user was unlucky. After all, only someone who was extremely unlucky could smash living rooms or have their fingers pinched unmercifully by the spring mechanism.



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