Friday, March 20, 2009

Article #47 Luck and Superstitions

Do you remember as a child carrying around a rabbit’s foot on a key chain to bring you good luck? Or worrying about stepping on a crack (in the sidewalk) and breaking your mother’s back? There were many unique superstitions that were passed down during our childhood that we faithfully observed without knowing why.

Some superstitions were really strange like breaking a mirror means seven years of bad luck. Or if a black cat crosses your path, it brings you misfortune. I never could figure out why if you spilled some salt, you had to throw more salt over your left shoulder. All you got was a bigger mess.

The dictionary defines SUPERSTITION as an irrational but usually deep-seated belief in the magical effects of a particular action or ritual, especially in the likelihood that good or bad luck will result from performing it. Also called old wives tales, folklore, taboos, and omens, they included such ideas as Friday the 13th was an unlucky day. Numerologists believed that 12 was a complete number but 13 was associated with bad luck. I’m not sure when we let go of these strange childhood beliefs. I know my husband and I met at a dance on Friday the 13th and have considered it lucky ever since.

There was another funny belief about not killing a ladybug and a chant that goes with it. I remember singing it as a young child while holding a ladybug on my finger before blowing it off so it could fly home. Lady bug, lady bug, fly away home, your house is on fire, your children will burn. Or how about Cross my heart and hope to die if I ever tell a lie. Ever knelt on the grass hunting for a four leaf clover because it would bring you good luck? Who taught you that?

Some practices continue even in our enlightened day such as: If you blow out all the candles on your birthday cake with the first puff, you will get your wish. Maybe that’s just positive thinking but in case it’s true…the next shooting star I see I’m going to say this phrase from my youth: Star bright, star light, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, Have the wish I wish tonight. It couldn’t hurt anything and just might bring me good luck.


  1. I do remember all the sayings you mentioned, but I don't know anyone who really put any fear behind the unlucky ones, or any hope in the lucky ones. Maybe I lived in a neighborhood of sceptics???

  2. Yes, I remember them all, too. As a child I considered them to be the absolute truth, but have to admit that the older I got, the more I would grin when I said them. Still, every now and then I find myself saying one of them -- softly and with a smile and a little hope! I'll take the good luck wherever I can find it!

  3. I'm sure a part of me still holds onto a bit of all of these. I make those wishes, hold my breath, and mind the cracks in the walk.

    I am wondering how many of these my daughter might know.

  4. You could say these are all part of our cultural literacy, like nursery rhymes and fairy tales. They make life richer.

  5. There is one cultural belief/superstition I remember as a child. My mother called it "bachi." She taught us that if you ever do anything bad, you would get a "bachi" which is retribution. Something bad would return to you. It made me very careful about what I did.

  6. No superstitions here. And rabbit's feet always horrified me. Not good luck for the poor bunny.

  7. I still blow dandilions in the wind, throw pennies in wishing wells, and wish on the firt start of the night. They are comforting links to a gentler time in the world. My grandchildren know all of the old superstitions and wives tales. I've seen to it.

    We look for fairies in the flower gardens every time they come. Just to make sure they continue to believe... we place cookie crumbs and a childs teacup full of apricot nectar for them before we go to bed. In the morning we go out to see if they partook of any of the goodies we left for them. The cookies and nectar are always gone and fiarie dust (irridescent glitter) is on the ground and a few flower petals.

    I have no intention of growing up and leaving these fun legends of my childhood behind me.