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Some superstitions are so common that it is easy to forget that they are strange practices. If an alien visited Earth, not many people would be able to explain to them why we reflexively say, "Bless you," when someone sneezes.
But whether you follow these traditions or not, it's certainly fun to find out where they come from. Each of them has a story behind them, so keep reading for some cool little things that will impress your friends!
Why We Knock On Wood
The first evidence that people say "Touch Wood" (the British version of "Knock on Wood") dates back to the 1800s . However, the practice is much older than that, and there are some conflicting lineages from where they came from.
Some believe it is a pagan tradition of the Celts who believed trees were the homes of gods and spirits. They could be knocking on wood to thank the good spirits or drive away the evil spirits.
Others attribute the practice to Christianity, since wood was also sacred in Christian cultures as the material of the cross. However, it is also possible that the superstition is not so deep: on some old children's games, wood was tapped or touched to become immune to get lost.
Why We Throw Salt
If you spill salt, you might suddenly feel the need to throw something over your shoulder – and if you can Someone may want to remind you to do it. They may even tell you to throw it over your left shoulder, not your right.
One possible explanation for this is the fact that salt used to be very expensive. If you spilled it, it was certainly the work of the devil. If you throw a little over your left shoulder, the devil will be dazzled by which you would spill it (Christians once thought the devil was hanging behind the left shoulder).
One of the most famous connections to this superstition can be found in Da Vinci's painting The Last Supper . Look closely and you will see that Judas has spilled the salt. Judas is the famous traitor of the Christian tradition, so that this portrayal combined salt with lies, betrayal and the devil.
Why We Say "Bless Yourself" When People Sneeze
When you say "Bless yourself" (or "God bless you") when someone sneezes, it is so common that it seems almost rude if you do not do it. However, few people think about where this tradition comes from.
Long ago, some believed that a sneeze was a bad spirit that left the body or the body that wanted to leave a ghost. When you say, "God bless you," the sneeze helped to prevent the Spirit from reentering.
It was once believed that the heart temporarily stopped during sneezing, although this has been proven wrong for a long time. However, the practice could also come from the days of the plague in the Middle Ages. Legend has it that Pope Gregory I issued a decree that people should say "God bless you" to protect themselves from the plague when someone sneezes.
Why we are afraid of breaking mirrors
Did you hear that a broken mirror means seven years of bad luck? You may not believe it, but it's probably still going to hit you in the head when you break a mirror.
Because mirrors hold our reflections, people used to think they were connected to our soul. This idea could go back to ancient Greece, where people believed that spirits could be found in the reflections of a still pool of water.
When the mirror broke, it was believed that the soul was fragmented. Some legends believed that this broken soul could not protect its owner from misfortune. Others said the broken soul would take revenge on its owner.
Why We Do not Run Under Ladders
It seems a bit more sensible to think that it is unfortunate to go under a ladder: Perhaps the person working at the top of the ladder could be a tool on the ladder Throwing your head or even falling on you. The actual superstition, however, is more interesting.
Some date this belief to ancient Egypt, where the triangle was held sacred (pyramids, anyone?). Going through a triangle shape was a big faux pas, and a ladder leaning against a wall forms a triangle.
Later, however, Christians adopted the same faith and associated it with the crucifixion of Christ. At the time of Christ's death, a ladder leaned against the cross, turning them into unfortunate symbols that would bring misfortune to anyone who went under another.
Why we do not open umbrellas indoors
Modern umbrellas that open and close are no longer in use, so this is not the case is a superstition that may not be that old.
The first eighteenth-century umbrellas were far removed from those we use today: heavy and heavy, using a system of springs and sharp metal bars to open.
Even today, opening an umbrella in a crowded room can lead to eye contact. But imagine how it was with one of these earlier designs. From injuries to broken objects, it's not hard to see where this superstition came from.
However, in many earlier cultures there were also overlapping designs that did not open and close. In ancient Egypt, only a king could use a sunshade for protection from the sun. In ancient China, leather umbrellas were a sign of the nobility. So the superstition about opening an umbrella might have much older roots associated with the umbrella as a sacred, royal object.
Why We Think Number 13 Is Unfortunate
People fear number 13 so much that many hotels do not mark their 13th floor and go directly from 12 to 14 instead. And Friday, the 13th, is considered a particularly unfortunate day
This superstition goes back to the laws of ancient Mesopotamia, known as the Code of Hammurabi. This code broke the 13th law, although this is now a translation mistake and not a deliberate avoidance. However, some cultures later interpreted the omission as a sign to avoid 13.
The number 12 has been widely regarded by many cultures as an important number: There is a reason why we have a 12-month calendar and the hours of the day in the sentence of 12 years. In contrast, some people thought 13 was bad, 12 was good.
Not only that, but also the legends of the Nordic legends claimed that Loki, the trickster god, had brought evil to the world. 13th guest at a party in Walhalla. Christianity also plays a role in this superstition. Judas not only overturned the salt at the Last Supper, he was also the 13th guest.
Why we look for four-leafed clover
For some children, there is no greater joy than finding a four-leaf clover. But why are these coveted lucky symbols?
First of all, it's easy to find one that contradicts you. Experts say your chances of finding one are 1: 10,000 .
But even before the scientists had calculated this number, people wore four-leaf clovers. The ancient Celts sometimes wore them to keep evil spirits in check. In the Middle Ages, people believed that four-leaved shamrocks could help them find and avoid dangerous fairies. Tradition has it that Eve chose a four-leaf clover when she was expelled from Eden.
Why We Hang Horseshoes
Have you ever hung a "lucky horseshoe" over a door? This superstition is centuries old.
The ancient Celts first hung horseshoes over their doors to fend off goblins, fairies and elves. The fact that horseshoes looked like crescent moon should deter these supernatural creatures.
Nowadays, some people believe that horseshoes need to hang open so that happiness stays inside and does not fall out. Others, however, believe that a horseshoe should hang from below, so that luck falls on the one who walks through the door.
Why We Want Star Stars
We now know that "shooting stars" are not stars: they are meteors that burn when entering the atmosphere. But that does not stop people from expressing a wish when they see one.
This idea probably comes from Ptolemy, an astrologer of ancient Greece. He wrote that falling stars are a sign that the gods were looking at the earth. If you have seen one, this was the perfect time to wish for something from the deities.
Some Central European cultures also believed that each person had their own star, and a shooting star marked the death of a human being. While they would not make a wish, they might say a wish for the dying soul when they saw one, like a simple "Go with God"