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Do you find yourself knocking on wood every so often? Do you avoid walking under ladders? Here’s the history of some of these well known superstitions:

Walking under a ladder – May have its roots dating back to Christianity, specifically the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A ladder propped up against a wall forms a triangular shape, and walking through it was seen as a terrible thing to do, as it meant “breaking the Trinity,” which brought on bad luck.

Knocking on wood – From Ireland to India, trees are seen as pillars of spirituality, with believers of all cultures laying their hands on tree trunks to give thanks or ask favours in times of need. For this reason, wood has long become a way of warding off bad luck.

Opening an umbrella indoors – Traced back to the 18th century, where umbrellas are meant to protect you from the rain – but when opened indoors it’s an insult to your home’s guardian spirits, by telling them their protections was just “not enough.” The offended spirits were then thought to bring back luck to the offender.

Broken mirrors – The thought that a broken mirror would bring seven years of bad luck may date back to Roman times, when mirrors were believed to be magical and reflect one’s soul, and breaking a mirror was thought to have death follow. Seven years was believed to be the length it took for life to renew itself. To break the curse, one had to pick up all the pieces of the broken mirror and bury it in the moonlight.

Old brooms in a new house – Old brooms are said to carry the negative things you’d rather forget, and bringing them into a new house was thought to bring bad luck in the household. New home = new broom!

Friday the 13th – The superstition surrounding this day may have arisen in the Middle Ages, originating from the story of Jesus’ last supper and crucifixion, in which there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday. While there is evidence of both Friday and the number 13 being considered unlucky, there is no record of the two items being referred to as especially unlucky in conjunction before the 19th century. The irrational fear of the number 13 has been given a scientific name: “triskaidekaphobia”.

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