The history behind 5 famous superstitions


1. Friday the 13th – This particular superstition can be traced back to a Norse myth where 12 gods gathered for a dinner party in Valhalla. A 13th uninvited guest arrived, the trickster god Loki. While there he tricked Hödur, the blind god of darkness, to shoot Baldur the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness. And that’s not it, the number 13 was also considered bad luck in Ancient Rome, as witches were believed to gather in groups of 12, and the 13th was believed to be the devil. Friday also has negative biblical connotations as the day Jesus was crucified, the day Eve tempted Adam with forbidden fruit and the day Cain killed Abel.

2. A black cat crossing your path is bad luck – This superstition can again be linked to religion. The Egyptian goddess Bast took the form of a female black cat, and as Christians wished to rid the world of all other religions, they created the idea that black cats were secretly demons in disguise. If a black cat crossed your path it was believed to cut you off from the entrance of Heaven.

3. Throwing spilled salt over your left shoulder is good luck – Salt has developed a reputation for being a purifying substance that drives away evil, and this is likely to be because of the high social value placed on it. Roman soldiers are believed to have been paid in salt, and it’s also been used in rituals throughout history to purify items. The custom of throwing salt over your left shoulder began with the idea of driving away evil spirits that waited there, as spilling salt was believed to be a bad omen.

4. Breaking a mirror causes seven years of bad luck – There are many theories concerning where this superstition came from. One idea is that when mirrors were first created they were so expensive if you were to break someone’s mirror you’d have to serve seven years as their servant to pay the cost back. A more spiritual root for this superstition is the idea that the mirror is a representation of the person’s inner soul, so breaking one would damage the soul. The idea of it taking seven years to right itself can be linked to the Roman belief that every seven years, a man’s body was physically rejuvenated.

 5. A rabbit’s foot will bring good luck – This superstition can be traced back thousands of years to 600 BCE. Due to the fertile nature of rabbits, they quickly became symbols of fertility and abundance. The back leg was considered lucky as its back feet hit the ground before its front feet, therefore a rabbits hind foot would supply ample good luck to the bearer. This superstition is still prevalent today with over 10 million rabbit feet bought every year in the USA.

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