Since this week is both the Ides of March and St. Patrick’s Day, we’re taking a break from books and reading to have a fun look at lucky superstitions. Superstitions are light-hearted or trivial beliefs that we hold regardless of evidence. Examples of lucky superstitions include four-leaf clovers, knocking on wood, throwing salt over your shoulder, and lucky horseshoes.
Finding a four-leaf clover is considered a sign of luck, wealth, and protection. This superstition dates back to the very beginning. One legend says that Eve saved a four-leaf clover as a reminder of paradise in the Garden of Eden. The early Celts believed four-leaf clovers had magical powers of protection. How rare are four-leaf clovers? A research team in Switzerland puts your odds of finding a four-leaf clover at one in 5,076.
Knock on Wood
The phrase knock on wood is used almost like an incantation. I haven’t dropped my cell phone once; knock on wood! Historians have several theories about the origin of this superstition, including the magical powers of trees. One of our favorites comes from a nineteenth-century British children’s game called Tiggy Touchwood. A player was safe in this game of tag as long as they were touching wood. British people today still say touch wood rather than knock on wood. In Poland and Russia, you must knock or touch unpainted wood, and in Turkey, you must knock the wood twice.
Throwing Salt Over Your Shoulder
Have you heard of having a devil on your shoulder who whispers temptations into your ear? Then you understand why you might want to throw a little salt over your shoulder to ward him off. Traditionally, the devil resides on the left shoulder, so that’s where you should toss the salt. You don’t want to scare away the angel on your right shoulder.
In ancient Rome, metal was considered very valuable and even magical. Horseshoes were extra lucky because they often had seven nail holes, and the number seven had superstitious powers of its own.
May the luck of the Irish and the fun of learning be with you!