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behavior, Knowledge

Do Ya Feel Lucky?

       I was browsing the web in celebration of it’s birthday (25 years on March 12), and came across this website:The National Day Calendar. It lists all kind of National Days.Some are real holidays. A lot of them are just fun.

March 13 is National Open An Umbrella Indoors Day. Have you ever heard that opening an umbrella indoors is bad luck?  I grew up with this knowledge. Why and how it works, I have no idea..

Superstition is a “an irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious”. dictionary.com   Wikipedia puts it this way: “Superstition is the belief in supernatural causality—that one event leads to the cause of another without any natural process linking the two events”

The word is derived from the Latin “Super-stare” meaning to stand over, or survive. Once thought to refer to being in awe or fear of the gods, I think it allows for the understanding that to survive something bad, something you fear, you need to be cautious, aware, superstitious about it.

It is a universal concept, going back to the first people, who were afraid of storms, and thought a god of some kind caused it because they disobeyed. The ancient Romans and Greeks considered a man who trembled before the gods to be inferior.  This was likely where the negative connotation of the word superstitious came from. Even today, the Catholic Church considers it to be a sin because it shows lack of trust in God.

Gradually all sorts of things were associated with fear. weather, numbers, animals, even other groups of people. Behaviors were created to ward off the evil of the feared object or situation.Rituals were designed to keep the group safe.  Some of these rituals remain today, in the form of religious ceremony. Superstitions have grown up around many different careers and lifestyles, like theater, sports, and gambling, to name a few.

Luck is a concept that grew out of being superstitious. Using a charm or just believing a certain idea is supposed to bring you good things. In order to avoid the bad stuff, the thing that you are superstitious of, you use your good luck object because you want to avoid that fear. And of course, bad luck means it didn’t work.

There are probably hundreds of superstition talismans, mantras, and gestures used by seemingly intelligent people. We find most of them humorous.  However….

  • do cross your fingers when telling a lie?
  • go out of your way to avoid a black cat?
  • knock on wood?
  • is there a rabbit’s foot in your pocket?
  • do you whistle when going past a cemetery?
  • and do you cringe if someone opens an umbrella indoors?

What superstitions did you grow up with? Join in the conversation in comments. Maybe you’ll get lucky and find a kindred soul who feels the same way you do about ladders.

About ejgresearch

As soon as I retired I hit the road. I am now a nomad traveling the USA in a minivan. This blog is my travelogue / journal about those travels.


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