The very idea of a superstition seems strange if examined closely. It seems to be the case that humans developed the practise and belief of superstition to explain the order of nature and human life that in years gone by was, scientifically speaking, a mystery. There was, and in some places still is, a belief that nature and the world's objects had a fundamental connection with spirits and the spirit world, and the need to keep on the 'good side' of these forces or keep them in alignment was an understandable progression. These rituals seeped into the general psyche worldwide, and developed into what we know nowadays as superstitions.
Superstitions exist today having been passed on, generally by word of mouth, from generation to generation. Although we're living in a society unprecedented for its scientific advancements and reliable knowledge of how the world works, superstitions are still widespread and widely believed. Many of us barely question our day-to-day superstitious rituals; most of us wouldn't think twice about crossing our fingers in the hopes that something good will happen, although it's an odd and seemingly random practice (incidentally, experts hold that the habit came from creating the sign of the cross with one's fingers to invoke the help of the Christian God).
Although common sense is generally the pervasive force in societal structures and habits, there's still evidently a place for superstitious rituals and beliefs. In looking at ten of the world's most common superstitions, and the origins of each one, we'll leave it to our readers to decide if these are reasonable and reassuring, or needlessly ritualistic and compulsive.
10 Knocking on wood
9 Photography with the power to steal your soul
8 Salt, spilling and tossing
7 Walking under ladders
6 Something old, new, borrowed, and blue
5 Black cats
3 Wishing on a star
2 Breaking mirrors
1 Friday the 13th
At number one is the enduring phobia surrounding the number thirteen. The notion that the number is unlucky is so deeply ingrained in our psyche that most buildings don't even have a thirteenth floor - hotels, too, tend to go straight from room number twelve to room number fourteen, and some cities even skip the thirteenth street. These days we generally favour Fridays but the day was traditionally believed to be an unlucky one, most widely believed to be so because Jesus was crucified on a Friday; as such, Friday the 13th has long been believed to be an unlucky day.
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