Are you superstitious? Can you think of some international superstitions?

Superstitions are irrational beliefs that are said to determine unlucky events in the future. In reality, there is no logical connection between events like a black cat crossing your path and what will occur in the future but, regardless, a lot of people believe in superstitions. In this article we will look at some superstitions from around the UK and the world. See which ones you are familiar with and which ones you heed.

Friday the 13th

In Spain and Greece, Tuesday the 13th is bad luck; however, in the Anglo-Saxon world the day of the year to be feared is Friday the 13th. In fact, the number 13 is seen as so unlucky that buildings and hotels often do not have a 13th floor and some planes have not got row 13.  Very little is known about the origins of this superstition. Some historians believe it has Biblical roots while other claim it arose in the late 19th Century.

Walking under ladders

According to popular belief, walking under a ladder will bring you bad luck. This superstition originated in the 16th Century when witches used to be hung from ladders. These days, you’re unlikely to see a witch hanging from a ladder but a pot of paint (or the ladder) could fall on you so, be careful.

Bless you!

When someone sneezes, English speakers tend to say ‘Bless you’. This superstition dates back to the 16th Century when sneezing was the first sign that someone was going to die of the plague.

Knock on wood

We say ‘knock on wood’ to prevent something from happening and ward off bad luck, for example, “I have not failed any exams this term, knock on wood.” The concept behind this superstition is that knocking on wood temporarily keeps evil spirits away.

Breaking a mirror

Superstition suggests that if you break a mirror you will have seven years of bad luck. The roots of this superstition come from people believing that mirrors were windows to other worlds and the belief that breaking a mirror was like breaking one’s soul.

Umbrellas inside

Opening an umbrella indoors is seen as being unlucky in Anglo-Saxon cultures. Historians say that this superstition dates back to the 18th century when umbrellas were large, awkward and could potentially injure someone if left open in a small, closed space.

Fingers crossed

When you wish for something to happen or wish someone good luck it is common to say “Fingers crossed” which is the same as saying “Let’s hope that happens.”


Can you think of any other common superstitions you have come across or believe in? Share your ideas with us in the comments section below.

The root of all superstition is that men observe when a thing hits, but not when it misses.  –  Francis Bacon

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