Most Popular Superstitions Across the Globe and their Origins

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Most Popular Superstitions Across the Globe and their Origins


It may be strange to hear it now, in this high-tech and modern world, but there are still a lot of people who believe in superstitions. From placing their fate in numbers to going out of their way to avoid bad luck, people from walks of life and even professional athletes have had superstitious beliefs since way back when. More interestingly, each superstition has an incredible back story that is waiting to be told. 


Knocking on a wooden door / Photo by: chabybucko and IStock via Insider


Knocking on Wood

Originating from Europe, the phrase "knock on wood" has often been used by people in order to ward off bad luck. During the medieval period, many churches claimed that they have pieces of Jesus' cross, which eventually resulted in church officials saying that knocking on wood can bring good luck. 

However, the superstition actually stemmed from an old Pagan belief that spirits live in trees, and if you knock on a tree, that means you are seeking help from the good spirits and making sure that the bad spirits can't hear you and cause you harm. 



Sneezing / Screenshot from: Giphy via Romper


Saying “God Bless You” After Someone Sneezes

Centuries ago, saying "Bless you!" after someone sneezed wasn't considered a polite thing to do. It was an order given by Pope Gregory the Great during the sixth century A.D in Italy when an epidemic spread in the country. The Pope urged people to stay healthy by saying "God bless you!" every time someone sneezes.

Because severe sneezing was one of the first symptoms of the dreaded illness, the statement was a sincere wish that the sneezing individual remained healthy and safe. Even after the epidemic subsided and years passed up to the present when hand sanitizers and rubbing alcohol are available, the practice has remained.



Empty bottles / Photo by: Hans and Pixabay via Insider


Placing Empty Bottles on the Floor for Good Luck

Placing empty bottles on the ground is considered a practice for good luck in Russia. Many speculate that this superstition came from a legend involving Russian soldiers during the 19th century. As the story goes, the practice was carried out by Russian soldiers who were deployed in Paris in order to save money.

As they were charged by the empty bottles they would leave on their table, the clever soldiers would hide them on the ground. The practice was brought back to Russia and since then became something that was considered as a good luck practice.



Opening an umbrella / Photo by: Everett Collection and Shutterstock via Romper


It Is Bad Luck to Open Umbrellas Indoors

One reason why it is considered bad luck to open umbrellas indoors is because an umbrella is exposed to a storm, a kind of bad luck that you can spread inside with an opened umbrella. It is also believed that umbrellas should not be brought inside the house (or other things that belong outside), as they may bring some sort of unpredictability, danger, and potential chaos that usually came from outside. Early designs of umbrellas also included a spring mechanism that can cause bodily harm or injuries if it malfunctioned inside.



A ladder / Photo by: Mykl Roventine via Wikimedia Commons


Walking Under a Ladder Is Considered Bad Luck

A number of people tend to go out of their way just to avoid walking under a ladder. One popular theory about this is that when a ladder is propped against a wall, it creates three sides of a triangle. Many people often consider the number three as holy, most especially in Christianity's Holy Trinity. Therefore, walking under a ladder means that not only are you violating the Trinity, but you are also causing bad luck.

However, the simplest way to describe this superstition is because walking under a ladder can expose you to accidents, such as a tool or the whole ladder falling on top of you. It also makes the person standing on the ladder very nervous that it might fall down should you accidentally bump on it. 




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