Even if you may not believe in them, are you not curious to know the origins of superstitions? It all started a long time ago, mainly during Antique time and the Middle age. At that time people strongly believed in witches, spirits, and supernatural phenomena. However, it might surprise you but not all superstitions were linked to your soul. Some of them have quite pragmatic explanations.
Broken Mirrors curse
This one may be the most common superstition, even though fewer and fewer people believe in it. Those who did were the Ancient Romans. At that time it was thought that mirrors contained fragments of our souls. Therefore, breaking a mirror would affect our health and well-being. However, it would only last for seven years because it was the time required for the soul to regenerate. Be patient and you will be brand new again!
“Bless you” for the superstitious
Another soul story in the origins of superstitions. Scientists state that what could come out of your nostrils when you sneeze is mucus, blood at worst. The ancient superstition goes further than that. Indeed, the ancient Romans and Greeks’ belief was that you could sneeze your soul out. The same goes for yawning, considered a high-risk activity too! The habit of saying “bless you” was originally meant to protect you against vagabond souls.
Opening an umbrella indoors
In Ancient Egypt, umbrellas were designed to represent the Egyptian goddess of the sky, Nut. They were made out of papyrus and peacocks feathers and so sacred that only the nobles were allowed to have one. Not only commoners could not have one but it was forbidden for them to dare to step in under one’s umbrella. The purpose of the umbrella is to protect one against the sunlight so opening it inside is meaningless and, at that time, was considered an insult to the God of the Sun.
In other cultures, it was a bad oven because houses were small, and opening it could break things. This sounds like a more realistic reason.
Black cats superstition
Middle age was a hard period for black cats. These lovely creatures were almost hunted because of the color of their fur. The reason is they were associated with the Devil. This superstition was so popular that black cats were accused to have caused the black death pandemic in the 14th century, and 200 years ago, to have a special and deep relation with witches. From then until today, it said that crossing the path of a random black cat is a very bad sign. Is it not more a warning than a curse then?
Do not walk under a ladder
The origins of superstitions are not really obvious, and this one may be less than the others. To make it simple, number three in Christianity is sacred as an extension of the doctrine of the trinity. This doctrine is about one God being at the same time three things: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Now that you know that, it’s time for a little geometry. When you put a ladder against a wall it creates the shape of a … triangle! And walking through it could be seen as breaking the trinity which is blasphemous!
A more pragmatic explanation of the ladder curse is that it is often used to do building paintwork or any building high work. Therefore, if you walk under the ladder you are taking the risk of something accidentally falling down on your new haircut and clean outfit.
“13” The cursed number
The curse of the number 13 is widely known and maybe still one of the most believed superstitions today. The popular reason lies in the last supper of Jesus to which Judas (the one who betrayed Jesus) arrived last as the 13th guests.
However, there is another story about it much less known. You find it in Norse mythology. The wily trickster god Loki was the 13th god to arrive at a divine dinner party. He tricked a fellow guest into shooting the god of joy with an arrow. This brought chaos to the world. Is it really the number 13 itself the curse or more specifically a 13th guest?
Knocking on woods superstition
Have you ever wondered why it has to be wood and not any other material? Well, the key to this superstition brings back to the ancient pagan cultures. They believed that gods and spirits lived in trees. Knocking on trees was then a way to possibly reach the gods to ask for protection and luck. It’s as simple as that.
Four-leaf clover for luck
Superstitions are not only about bad luck like we’ve seen it before. The four-leaf clover one is also quite a common belief. So much that an entire nation has chosen it as its symbol (hello Irish friends). One thing is for sure, four-leaf clovers are not easy to find and the origins of the superstition may tell you why. Apparently, this plant is not from the earth but from paradise! Eve, Adam’s lover, took one from the Garden of Eden, as a memory when she learned about their expulsion. Until today this godly plant is said to bring you luck and prosperity.
Most superstitions find their origins in religious beliefs. Back then being religious was the norm. Nowadays, people tend to be more pragmatic and base their beliefs on science. Others try to link both belief and science. The search for factual explanation may be the reason why today’s superstitions are funnier than scary. Everyone has its level of skepticism and it must be respected even if some curses can be hard to believe in like the vending machine curse.