Most people are superstitious even if they don't realize it. The best proof of this is the fact that many people do certain rituals to attract good luck or stay away from bad luck "just in case," even if they know that doing a certain thing doesn't have anything to do with the events that could occur.
With this in mind, the first thing that we need to do is define superstition. So, we can declare that superstition is a belief in the fact that certain actions, signs, numbers, or even animals bring positive or negative consequences. Therefore, this gives certain almost magical explanations to the generation of certain phenomena, processes, and relationships.
In this respect, superstitions are beliefs without any strong basis that often are even recognized by superstitious people that do them for no reason, without having to justify it, as if it were a sort of dogma.
Oxford dictionary gives us a concise definition of superstition, explaining that this is an 'excessively credulous belief in and reverence for the supernatural.'
It is important to note that superstitions aren't universal. Bad luck is brought by different colours, numbers, or even animals, depending on the country. Within the realm of superstition, some things attract bad luck or warn of an upcoming misfortune, and others that draw good luck or that bring good news.
In general, we tend to be faced with more superstitions related to the negative than with the positive. Here is a compilation of some of the 25 most popular superstitions.
We'll start with a traditional superstition related to bad luck: walking under a ladder. In Europe and the Americas, this superstition holds strong. This superstition comes from the fact that a ladder forms a triangle when leaning against a wall, which corresponds with the Holy Trinity, and crossing it would mean infringing upon this sacred symbol. Interesting, don't you think?
The black cat is the animal that got the short end of the stick when it comes to superstition since crossing one's path is said to bring bad luck. Black cats were a symbol of witchcraft and evil; this is the origin of this bad omen. However, there was a time when this animal symbolized the protection of the home in England. In Egypt, for example, owls are the animal associated with bad luck, whereas in the western world, they are considered to be good luck.
Have you ever accidentally dropped and shattered a pocket mirror? According to superstition, a broken mirror means seven years of bad luck. What does it mean to have bad luck? This question is another one that's is up for debate.
Has anyone ever scolded you for wishing them a happy birthday before their actual date of birth? People do this is because there is a superstition that says that this action attracts negative energy, and will keep the person from having more birthdays.
Another involuntary action associated with bad luck in superstition is spilling salt, which brings bad luck or hard financial times. This superstition came about because, in the old days, salt was a symbol of wealth; which is why getting paid for a job is called a salary. Putting salt in another person's hand is also said to be a sign that there will be a fight.
This number is said to be bad luck, and one of the most wide-spread explanations for this is that Judas was the 13th apostle at Jesus's last supper. Thirteen is replaced by 12+1 since this superstition is so widespread. This can be seen at hotels, or even on one edition of the show 'Big Brother,' where the thirteenth edition was named this way. By the way, the fear of the number 13 is called triskaidekaphobia.
Depending on where you find yourself in the world, the 13th of the month could be particularly fateful, particularly on a Tuesday (in Spain, Greece, and other Latin American countries like Cuba, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia...) or if it's a Friday (in the United States, for example).
We all know someone in our environment, whether they're close to us or not, that just seems to be unlucky. Every time this person's name is uttered something bad happens, and so it should be avoided. To solve this problem, according to superstition, you must refer to this person as "he or she who cannot be named."
Toasts are made at events and meetings to wish good luck to all present, or to whoever the host is. However, it is not recommendable to make a toast with water, since this is considered to be bad luck.
In Spain and other places the color yellow is associated with bad luck, and people are advised to avoid wearing it. However, if you go to Italy, for example, purple is bad luck's hue, and in the UK and United States, Green is the color of bad luck.
Usually, clovers have three leaves, however, on rare occasions if you look very carefully, you can find a four-leaved one lying around. If you see one, don't think twice about carrying it with you! This is a highly wide-spread good luck symbol all across the globe.
According to superstition, a rabbit's foot is another lucky object. Fortunately for these animals, this superstition is losing hold since many of these lead to the deaths of animals. In Africa, for example, rhinoceros horns are considered to be an aphrodisiac, which has lead to poaching.
Has anyone ever told you to buy a lottery ticket after stepping on dog poop? There's a superstition out there that says that this is good luck. Do you know anyone that became a millionaire after stepping on animal excrements?
In ancient times it was said that knocking on the cross where Jesus Christ died would give you a protective shield, and now, as a consequence, we knock on wood out of superstition. This practice is widespread, especially when something that is bad luck happens. For example, if you spill salt, you can knock on wood so that nothing happens to you. Just in case, right?
Many people place this object at the entrance of their home, where they hang their keys, or even on the key rack since it's so lucky. If you find one instead of buying one, its power is even stronger.
Open scissors should never be left on a table because it brings bad omens, and could cause an argument between those present. Will this superstition finally push you to take safety measures and keep scissors shut away from cutting you?
If you sweep the floor, make sure there isn't anyone close by, because according to superstition, sweeping under someone's feet won't bring anything good.
It's better to keep your bag in hand rather than leaving it on the floor if you go to eat at a restaurant, or to visit someone's home. Doing this is seen as disrespect towards fortune and prophesizes money loss. Also, keep in mind that a bag on the floor is easier to rob, and nothing could be unluckier than that, don't you think?
Unfortunately, certain physical characteristics are associated with bad luck. For example, crossing paths with a one-eyed person or a redhead could be considered unlucky. This might seem funny to you, but people are still discriminated against since their looks are said to bring bad luck, as is the case with albinos in some areas of the world.
When planning a wedding, there is one basic unwritten rule. The groom can't see the bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony or even see the dress at all. In spite of this, many marriages have ended in divorce even if the groom didn't see the dress!
Also, you should know that you'll be the next to get married if you're single and end up catching the bouquet at the wedding. Or at least this is what the superstition says.
You should avoid doing this at all costs, especially if there's a superstitious person in the room, since it is bad luck. Sounds like something that a mother probably came up with to keep her children from playing with their umbrellas indoors, don't you think?
We said before that spilling salt is unlucky; however, if you do this on purpose and throw it over your shoulder, it should protect you from these bad vibes. Watch out, make sure no one is behind you because if you threw salt in their eyes, that would really be unlucky!
According to medieval superstition, when you sneeze, this is your soul trying to escape through your mouth. In order to keep this from happening, you had to call on God, and that's why we say "God bless you" when someone sneezes.
Depending on where you come from in the world, eating either grapes or lentils on New Year's Eve is a common tradition. Eating lentils for lunch on New Year's Day is said to bring prosperity.