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10 Superstitions You Might Still Believe

Superstitions are just silly, right? There's a good chance that you may actually believe some and practice these rituals to thwart evil. See the list.

Superstitions and being superstitious is just silly, right? Perhaps, but there’s a good chance that you may actually believe many common superstitions and practice some of these rituals to thwart evil.

Here’s a list of the 10 most popular:

10 Superstitions You Might Still Believe

1.Walking Under A Ladder Is Bad Luck

First and foremost, it is dangerous to walk under a ladder in case it slips, but there’s more to the superstition than that. Since a ladder, leaning against a wall, forms a triangle with the ground and the wall, the belief is that you’d better not step through it and break it, or evil may befall you.

The triangle was a sacred symbol to the early Christians, representing the Blessed Trinity–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Walking under a ladder was considered a serious sin because it weakened God’s power, and thus released evil demons into the world. Before the gallows were invented, murderers were hung from the top rungs of ladders. Many people believed that their ghosts had a habit of hanging around under those ladders where the bodies fell, so it behooved a wise person to not walk under a ladder.

2. Black Cats Are Bad Luck

According to superstition, having a black cat cross your path may be lucky or unlucky, depending on where you live. In some countries, such as Egypt, all cats, no matter what their color, are lucky. In Egypt, cats were considered so sacred that if one was accidentally killed, its killer was put to death. Cat cemeteries were common, and mummified cats were buried with their owners.

Black cats enjoyed no such exalted status during the Middle Ages, when it was believed that a witch could take the form of a black cat. There’s a story about an English father and son meeting a black cat they suspected of being a witch. They stoned the cat and the next day encountered the witch in her human form. Her face was bandaged and she died shortly thereafter. This story seems to be the origin of bad luck coming your way if a black cat crosses your path. Of course, we know that black cats are just cats, and its coat color is simply genetics.

3. Beginner’s Luck is a “Thing”

Beginner’s Luck?

“Beginner’s luck” is the idea that people new to a sport or game are likely to win when they try it out for the first time. It could very well be that beginners simply do better because they aren’t as stressed out about winning. Too much anxiety, experts say, can hamper performance.

4. If You Spill Salt, You Should Throw Some Over Your Left Shoulder

We wonder how much salt ends up on kitchen floors with this one. It is believed that salt, everyone’s favorite seasoning, is also a valued weapon in the battle against evil spirits thanks to its purification and warding capabilities. Therefore, tossing it over your left shoulder with your right hand is supposed to create a magical barrier that will keep you safe from harm. Of course, the broom you use to sweep it up with probably has more ability to protect you from any danger.

5. Bad Luck Comes in 3s

First, your best friend is in a car accident. Then you spill coffee on your computer and it’s ruined. Now you’re waiting for “the other shoe to drop” because we’ve all heard that “bad luck comes in 3s.”

There are several theories behind this belief. One links once again to the holy trinity–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with the notion that important things (good and bad) come in threes. Another is that three establishes a pattern, so something happening once could be random, twice could be simply chance, but three times means something significant.

6. Knock on Wood or “Touch Wood” To Prevent Bad Things From Happening

view of hand knocking the wooden door.

You have probably performed this ritual a thousand times: You just finished the sentence that you never get sick, or that your car never breaks down, then you immediately search for something that’s made of wood so you can give it a few taps with your knuckles.

There are several theories of where this originated, but most agree that this belief started with the Druids.  Their idea of divinity involved nature and the trees were their gods. Knocking on wood was considered a form of physical contact with them, which brought along good fortune. Most Pagan cultures around the ancient world also believed that trees were inhabited by spirits, so it was thought that by simply knocking on the bark of a tree, you could stir the aid of the nature spirit residing within. It’s unlikely that knocking on wood does little more than send people to the front door looking for the pizza guy.

7. Crossing Your Fingers Improves Your Luck

Young woman crossing fingers for good luck.

Ever wish or hope for something and then cross your fingers? The reason for this was that it is believed that bad luck is trapped at the point where the two fingers meet so when we cross our fingers, we stop the bad luck from escaping and allow our wishes to come true. Not very likely, but it’s still one we almost all practice.

8. Opening An Umbrella Indoors Is Bad Luck

Open blue umbrella.

The umbrella myth comes from the early religions that worshiped the Sun god. People believed that opening it indoors and away from direct sunlight is an offense to him.

The only danger from this practice, really, is poking someone who’s standing in close proximity to the pointy ends.

9. Itchy Palms Means Money’s Coming

bag of money exchanging hands.

There’s an old superstition that when your palms itch it means money coming in our out. An itching left palm means money to be paid out, while an itching right palm is money coming in. But is there any truth to this one? Some experts say yes because itching palms often signifies new internal energy moving through the hands.

The left hand is the passive, or receptive, hand and the right is the active hand. To aid this superstition, another one comes along—touching or rubbing wood is a very old superstition for releasing unwanted energy buildup (thus “touch wood,” as in #6). Itchy palms could also simply mean dry skin.

10. Saying “God Bless You” When Someone Sneeze Protects Them From Evil

Young woman sneezing into a tissue.

This one is almost instinctual now. Someone sneezes and immediately we say either “Bless You” or “God Bless You.” But why?

During the sixth century, it was a tradition to congratulate people who sneezed because people believed that sneezing helped expel evil from their bodies. Years later, when a plague took over Europe, sneezing meant that the person was going to die from it. People blessed the person who sneezed because they were surely going to succumb to the plague and needed the prayer.  Saying the German, gesundheit, is essentially the same thing; it translates literally to “good health.”

What are your thoughts? Do you say you’re not superstitious but find yourself doing some of these things? Tell us in the comments below!

Susan Higgins is the Farmers' Almanac's Web Content Editor & Social Media Manager. She is a freelance writer/editor, copywriter, blogger, and writer of short fiction. Her passions are advertising, cooking, the ocean, libraries, pets & animal welfare, Netflix binges, and finding the perfect book at her local library.

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Toni C

Sneezing superstition
I heard it was believed that when you sneezed the phrase “God Bless You” was to stop evil spirits from entering the body. It was believed that your heart stopped when sneezing, therefore an evil spirit could enter the body. Saying “God Bless You” prevented that. 🤔

Christine Miller

I believe #6….wholeheartedly. It stems from my own belief that trees are sacred. I am descended from Druids so it fits.

Francine

I do all of them~~OMG🥴 Am I crazy?? And I have been doing them for as long as I can remember~I am 70~~that’s a long time☺️🤗

Tess

What about if uou step on a crsck you break your mothers back

Margaret Craven

I do all the above, it lessens the worry that something bad will really happen. But then, I’m Irish.

Marcela

There are a million other different superstitions that some of us believe in, however, that being said my great grandma believed in them all. Raised in Sicily and growing up pagan she experienced many things herself and then I was fortunate enough to inherit them from her. So, while many people do not believe in them, I want people to know that there are many many many people that do. Loved the article, btw.

Lacey Harris

Sneezing use to actually be thought of as ones soul was escaping the body and by saying, “God Bless You” your soul would return. And the German, “gesundheit” translate into, “in good health.”
I’m not sure WHERE or WHEN I learned about,
“God Bless You'” but I do know when I was 22/23yr I worked in a bar and had a VERY German girl friend who taught me about many German sayings and their translations. I miss her and her brother they were really neat people. But I ALEAYS REMEMBERED THAT ONE CUZ I REFUSE to believe our souls are trying to escape when we sneeze so I have made a strong habit of ALWAYS ALWAYS ONLY SAYING, “Gesundheit” when a person sneezes.
Thank You for those I did not know WHY your not suppose to walk under ladders or WHERE that came from. Oddly I immediately thought of the movie, ” THE RING” and the very strange image of a ladder that appeared several times throughout out the movie. It gave me the chills. And made complete sense! Thank You😁

Dea

Ever hear of a picture falling off the wall…means some has died.

Manny

who tf falls off a wall? wtf

Jackie

I believe it’s true we had a picture of Jesus hanging on the wall nobody was near it but all of the glass around the frame fell to the floor The next morning mom got the call my step dad had died

Lana

One susperstitution I was taught to not sweep out the door after dark. It will bring bad luck.

Francine

I have never heard that one.

Tammy

I say God Bless You when someone sneezes. My mother-in-law told me the reason why people say that is because the heart stops beating when you sneeze. If your heart does not start beating again, I’ve asked God to bless you.

Dman

Itching hand:- if you’re a man right is always receiving, while left is otherwise…
But if you’re a lady then left hand is always receiving, while right is otherwise…

Dornice wagea

No right means money and left means bills

Sherrie Lindsey

I was always taught left in coming , right going out

Elizabeth

I’m one to dispute the myth about the black cat crossing ones path. My friend ask me to join her and a few of her family members to go to the casino after work. Not feel up to it I reluctantly went to meet them at her house. When I reach the stair to her entrance there stood a Black cat. I said to it you have the choice. You can walk down to the left and we’ll be ok or if you decide to go right. I’m not going to be ok with that. Sure enough it went to the right crossing over my path. It stood and watch me reach the door,where I talked my friend that her damn cat just ruined my luck.
We went to the casino and I won around 500$. The following New Years Eve we decided to go to the casino. Again I met up with the black cat and again he crossed my path. This time I won a 1000.$ . Needless to say I have no issues with black cats.

Dora doumbia

I’ve. Heard if one black cat comes to u it’s good luck.black cat brought u good luck.

joe

true

Last edited 6 months ago by joe
Joni

My mom always told me if I gave someone a present that cut; e.g., knife or scissors or whatever, I had to ask them for a penny in return or it would sever our friendship.

Darrell L Cole

I was told from early on Not to carry any pointed object across a threshold. If you do make sure the point is away from you. So I don’t carry needles, scissors, etc from one room to the next unless it is pointed away from me. Prolly some common sense to the superstition.

Dea

I was taught to carry pointy items downwards so you don’t stab someone.

Lisa Fox

About thirteen years ago, while driving, a black cat crossed in front of my car. I never told anyone about it or talked to anyone in my family that day. But, upon my return home that evening, several really bad things had happened to several of my members that very day. I still didn’t tell them about the cat.
I then told one of my bosses about all of this. She had a minister come out to her house and gathered everyone around and had a blessing prayer. This included myself and husband. So, after that, I always say a blessing prayer each and every time a black cat crosses in front of me. It works. Nothing bad has happened to my family because of that incident, since the prayers were said.

Cassandra

My husband sneezes continuously when walking into bright sunshine. I say “bless you” the first 2 times, then I warm him after that I will have to beat him to keep the devil at bay.

Sherrie Lindsey

I still believe in all of them.Like old wives tells. BRIGHTEST BLESSINGS TO YOU ALL

Kathy gomez

That is so truth from a young girl coming up my grandparents always tell me when your hand scratch you get money when you sneeze you said God bless you so it is truth

Jeanie

Thanks for giving me hope and making my core chuckle. I loved all comments x

Redstorm1968

If you are walking along with a loved one, never separate to go around something stationary, such as a light pole. If you do, one of you has to go back and follow the other on the same side, saying, “Bread and butter!” No idea why, but I still do it. LOL

Bobby Griffin

Splitting a pole cause relationship to split be it friends or lovers so the old timers told me lol

Rosemary

I worked for an attorney who believed in not splitting the pole. We were in Birmingham for a trial and the co-counsel walked on the other side of the pole. He had the hardest time getting her to go back and walk on the side we were on. The other superstitions I’ve heard of and believe in knocking on wood, bad things come in threes and throwing salt over your shoulder. I also believe if you drop a knife, you will have a visit from a man; a fork, a woman will visit; and a spoon, a child is on the way.

Sheila

Lol

Kellie

How cool there’s still someone out there that does, “Bread & Butter” 😊 I trained my husband early on (married 1995) and to this day when walking somewhere, he still weaves into ‘my lane’ whenever an obstacle comes up – often without a word.

I hear, “splitting a pole” much more often anymore.

Last edited 7 months ago by Kellie
Bea Berrettini

I had to “train” my husband too! 😀

Bea Berrettini

I always do that!! 😀

Katherine

It was step on a crack break the devil’s back and itchy hands. Left hand is the receiving hand, when it itches money is coming your way. If it is your right hand, the giving hand, that itches it means you owe money. If given something “receive it” with your left hand, if giving something present it with your right hand. If you give a wallet or purse as a gift be sure to put a coin in it, even a penny, so the person receiving it will never be “penniless.” You do the same if you are sending these items to Goodwill.

skip levesque

howling wolf stated in I ain’t superstitious
if my right hand itch
I get money for sure
but if my left hand itch
some money gotta go
just don’t sweep me with no broom cause
I might end up in jail

Bobby Griffin

One of my favorite songs

Sandy Faulkner

I Always heard step on a crack break your mothers back. That was 55 years ago when I first heard that. I’m now 61.

Sandy Faulkner

Receive the check a month ago… But just found it yesterday and it was for $200 for my credit one bank credit card that I have.
And my left hand has been itching like crazy that whole month and this month.
Found the check yesterday, so this superstation I still believe.
My mom always told me that if the right hand was itching that meant somebody was coming with a hole in Their britches. Don’t know where some of these old sayings and superstitious came from.

FUNK ADEL

Well, the itchy palm still happens to me, and that’s precisely why I came to Google to find out how much if a myth it is. Itchy right, I receive money. Itchy left, I spend money. The reverse of your message here though.

Dora doumbia

It’s so true.ev.timey right hand itch I receive money.

Leafpeeper

Haha! Never heard of those two Brenda. I’ll have to ask my mom if she’s familiar with them. 🙂 My Gran used to say, “Cat ate grass. It’s gonna rain.” And she was always on target! Then again, she was an apple farmer in michigan…always watching for signs.

Brenda

How about when you pass someone going opposite of you on a flight of stairs…I retrace 3 steps!
Also, when walking with a loved one and something comes between you, i.e. a post, person, you have to say “bread & butter” to fend off an argument?

Leafpeeper

Yes! Karen, I remember the don’t step on a crack superstition. 🙂

Karen

This one most kids feared when I was growing up: if you step on a crack, your mom will break her back. We avoided cracks in the streets and sidewalks all the time. Another one: If you see a dead animal, you are suppose to say….one, two, three, not on my momma’s table.

Leafpeeper

On downton Abbey, Anna says “Bad harvest, bad harvest,” to ward off bad luck on her pregnacy. The reason given is to avoid the jealousy of the Gods when things are going well.

Tess

What about the guys surpose to always walk on the out side the closest to the road to protect the girl

Dora doumbia

Heard that one too.

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