Most North Americans can name one or two superstitions that affect their daily lives. Whether it's not seeing your groom before the wedding ceremony, or crossing your fingers for good luck, there are little things we all do to bring some good luck into our lives.
It's true, whether you believe in luck or not, we all seem to do these little rituals to avoid bad fortune. But where do they come from and why did people start doing them in the first place?
Find these answers and more in the pages below!
We're not exactly sure why we've done this for centuries, but some believe that misfortune would come to the couple if a groom sees his bride in her gown before the wedding. Others believe that it puts a curse on the marriage if he peeks too soon.
Others believe that it comes from more practical roots: the dowry tradition. Historically, fathers would offer money to men in the form of a 'dowry' in exchange for marrying their daughters.
The groom wouldn't meet his bride-to-be until the big day, and the only way to prevent the man from running away or changing his mind was to cover her in a veil that wasn't lifted until after the vows were exchanged.
Old wives' tales taught that crossing fingers warded off witches and evil spirits. Another explanation is that it could date back to a time when Christianity was illegal. Crossing fingers might have been a secret way for Christians to recognize one another.
Today, it is something we do when we wish for something to happen, or for when we make a promise that we secretly intend to break. Crossing your fingers behind your back somehow takes away your responsibility for the things you say or do.
While many of us just say it now as a force of cultural habit, saying "bless you" when someone sneezes is believed to have been made popular by Pope Gregory I (Gregory the Great).
During that time, the plague was sweeping across Europe. Since one of the first signs of the plague was sneezing, The Pope suggested that saying "God bless you" after someone sneezed might somehow protect them from certain death.
It's not a common sensation, but have you ever felt a need to scratch your palm? Depending on which hand it is, it could indicate that you're about to receive some cash.
Some ancient beliefs suggest that itching is a sign of internal energy moving through your palms. Your right hand moves dynamic or active energy, if you feel itchy there, then you are going to be paid for a service you provided to someone.
If your left hand is itchy, this energy is receptive or inactive. Since you are feeling receptive, new services will come to you, but you'll also have to pay for them.
Do you knock on wood when you say a wish out loud? Find out why we do this on the next page!
Anyone who's got an Irish grandmother knows better than to knock over the salt shaker on her table. If you do, be prepared to throw a pinch over your left shoulder, otherwise you'll bring bad luck to her kitchen for years to come!
What other superstitions do you know about?
Have you ever wished for something special out loud, but were afraid to jinx your chances of getting it? You've probably touched or knocked on wood.
But, why do we do it?
Pagan tradition believed that trees were the homes of fairies and mystical spirits that could help you out if you asked nicely. People would politely mention their wish to a tree and then touch the bark in thanks.
Others, Christian communities, suggest that by touching wood, you are symbolically touching the wood of the holy cross
Honestly, some poor sap probably just made this up to save face when a bird pooped on him in front of a pretty lady. The woman was probably so gullible she believed it and passed it on to all her friends. But that's just our theory.
Many cultures believe that bird poop is lucky and to be blessed with a little white bomb is a sign of good things to come. Some people believe that major wealth will come from an unexpected source, based on the idea that when you suffer an inconvenience, good fortune comes around in return.
Traditional Christian superstition believes that the Devil waits around every corner for someone to do something unlucky - like spill salt. Unless you throw a pinch of spilled salt over your left shoulder, into the eyes of the Devil, he will pounce on you and bring you misfortune.
This superstition is believed to have come from the Greek astronomer Ptolemy. He claimed that the gods peered down on earth from between the spheres and stars would sometimes slip out of the gap.
These visible shooting stars were a sign that the gods were watching and, since we had their attention, making a wish while they were receptive meant you had a better chance of getting what you wanted.
Have you ever broken a mirror? Find out how it's connected to your soul and what you can do to save it on the next page.
Are you feeling lucky? What would you do if you committed one of these bad luck-bringing acts? While some people believe in the consequences of these superstitions, others aren't much affected by them.
What do you think - if you broke a mirror, would you fear for your soul?
Most people know this common superstition, but do you know where it comes from?
Some people believe that their reflection is actually a representation of their souls and that breaking a mirror actually injures the other self. Ancient myths believed that breaking a mirror would shatter the soul's tie to the body and that misfortunes would befall the last person who looked into the mirror.
The Romans started the idea of seven years bad luck coming to those who broke the mirror. These ancient peoples believed that it took seven years for life to renew itself.
To avoid the bad luck, some people believe we must light seven white candles on the first night after breaking the mirror and then blowing them out at midnight in one breath.
Legend says that when Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden of Eden, Eve plucked a four-leaf clover to remember her days in Paradise. Lucky attributes have been given to all four leaves of the clover - each one is associated with St. Patrick and the Holy Trinity in Irish legend.
One idea is that they're so rare, so hard to find, they must be lucky to have! Anyone who finds a four-leaf clover is expected to have good luck come to them within 24 hours of finding it.
Find a heads-up penny could bring you good luck. Some people believe that it started in ancient times when owning precious metals (like a copper penny) would offer protection from evil spirits. Since the more coins a person had, the wealthier they are, the luckier they must be.
If you find a coin tails-up, you should flip it over and leave it for someone else, otherwise you'll have bad luck. Another way to get good luck is for a bride to place a penny in her shoe to ensure a blissful and prosperous marriage.
Similarly, when giving a gift of knives, tape pennies to the box to avoid any dangerous accidents.
In the Middle Ages, people in Europe believed that black cats were the companions of witches, or sometimes witches in disguise.
So, when a black cat crossed a person's path, it was thought of as a bad omen, or a sign that a witch was watching you. The belief came to america when the Pilgrims immigrated and carries on to this day.
This one has a long history.
It is believed that this superstition originated over 5, 000 years ago in ancient Egypt. The peoples of that time believed that a triangle was a sacred shape, representing the holy trinity of the gods. A ladder leaning against a wall formed a kind of triangle and to pass through it was blasphemous.
Later, the followers of Jesus Christ adopted the superstition, this time likening the ladder to the one that rested against the crucifix. To walk under the ladder was a way to invite disaster, bad luck and doom.
Do you believe any of these superstitions? What other ones can you think of? Share them in the comments!