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Superstitions and Their Origins

Superstitions are they beliefs that strengthen Or are they faiths that blindfold Do superstitions beef up a timid mind or do they weaken a brave heart While most of them arise out of fear some are meant to drive fear away. Superstitious beliefs are an outcome of ignorance and lack of rational thinking, but then they are beliefs after all. Beliefs become notions then become opinions and eventually begin to prevail in society.

Many of them stay for years deep rooted in the minds of common people while some are wiped off over time. Many superstitions become the basis of certain social customs and go on to become traditions. Such is the power of superstitions that they turn from being false beliefs to becoming strong notions, and the masses start following them. So what if they lack a rational standing So what if they lack a logical base Superstitions are beliefs And beliefs don’t need a reason Or do they

The origin of superstitions can be traced to beliefs people held in the olden times. Fear about the unseen less knowledge about the forces of nature and a lack of general awareness was the reason for the spread of certain beliefs in society. These beliefs might have lacked logic but there was nothing that could convince people otherwise. There was nothing to prove how baseless the beliefs were. They were passed from one generation to another until there were some who put their foot down to disapprove them. Some superstitious belief became social norms. With passing time some superstitions were rendered false while others ‘succeeded’ in establishing themselves as truths. The easiest and most obvious classification of superstitions puts them under two categories namely good luck superstitions and bad luck superstitions. With most superstitions there is some kind of symbolism involved for instance a black cat, a dead bird, an open umbrella, the number 13 and spilled salt symbolize bad luck, while a falling star, a horseshoe, a rabbit’s foot and the number 7 are popularly associated with good luck.

Lucky Horseshoes:
A horseshoe is one of the widely known good luck charms. It is considered lucky for its distinctive shape and function. The shape of a horseshoe, a typical U, similar to that of a crescent moon, is believed to bring good luck. Secondly, a horseshoe protects the horse, and is hence believed to protect humans too. Since making horseshoes is related to blacksmithy, which is considered to be a noble profession, horseshoes are also associated with nobility, and hence believed to bring good luck.

What does Finding a Penny indicate?:
You are definitely lucky if you find money. Finding a penny and picking it up is believed to bring a day of good luck. Finding a penny with heads up is considered luckier. It is believed that this penny should not be spent. Keeping it safe can bring you fortune. Any metal was considered God’s gift to mankind. Finding any metal coin would therefore be considered lucky. What can a penny buy you today Is finding one lucky then?

Black Cats bring Bad Luck(?):
The origin of this superstition can be traced to ancient Egypt. Back then, their goddess Bast was a female black cat. Christians, at that time, wanting to eradicate all other religions from society, convinced people that black cats were demons. Thus, a black cat crossing someone’s path began to be considered as evil, a barrier in one’s way to heaven.
Interestingly though, in England, black cats are believed to bring good luck. Some believe that cats can see spirits and can hence guard you against evil spirits. In Yorkshire, black cats are believed to guide fishermen safely home.

Breaking a Mirror:
It is said that breaking a mirror can bring you seven years of bad luck. Do you think there’s any truth in this proposition? The origin of this superstition stems from the belief that your reflection in the mirror represents your soul or your ‘self’. Breaking of the mirror would cause this ‘self’ to break, indicating that bad luck is near. Interestingly, there’s also a remedy to ward this ill luck away. Some believe that if the broken pieces are buried underground, bad luck can be kept at bay.

The Unlucky 13
The widely known story behind 13 being unlucky is that of Last Supper. Judas, the betrayer of Jesus was the 13th guest at the meal. And how did the Friday the 13th superstition originate? Actually, it’s just that the 13th day of a month falls on a Friday. There should be nothing scary about it. But with the many beliefs associated with 13th coming on Friday, this date has become a reason to fear.

Spilling Salt:
Something I had heard about spilling salt was that if you spill it, God makes you pick it up with your eye lashes. The superstition might have originated from the idea of discouraging wastage of salt by developing a fear about spilling it. Salt used to be expensive then. So, considering the spilling of salt as a sin was a sure way to make people more careful about its usage.

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