Do your throw salt over your shoulder, avoid walking under ladders or leave something behind for good luck when you move house? Do you ever wish upon a star? Superstitions have been handed down from generation to generation from time immemorial. Here are some you may recognise and some which may be new to you. Some you’ll believe, some you’ll reject others you can have fun with.
Apples: You’ve heard: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Or, that if you peel an apple in one long strip and recite the letters of the alphabet as you do so, the letter you have reached when the peel breaks is the first initial of a future lover! Or, if you slice an apple in two, without cutting a seed your wish for love will come true.
Bats: If a bat comes near you, someone is trying to bewitch or betray you. If one hits you or enters your house it is a sign of a death or bad luck to someone you love.
Bees: Bees bring news and must be told of any death. If bees buzz before the first of spring it means more cold weather to come. If they stay in their hive it means rain.
Bridges: If you make a wish whilst crossing a bridge your wish will be granted within a year. It’s also considered good luck if you happen to be walking under a bridge when a train passes overhead, more so if the whistle blows.
Brooms: If you sweep a broom under someone’s feet that person will have bad luck for a year. Keep a broom behind the door to sweep witches away. If a child starts to sweep you can expect visitors and never step over a fallen broom – pick it up.
Birds: If a bird flies into your home it usually means good luck or good news to come. If the bird is black then bad news is on its way. To rob a bird’s nest is to bring sorrow. If you hear an owl, expect news of a death. Shooting a bird means you’ll have bad luck for the rest of the year.
Candles: Many superstitions have been forgotten since the arrival of electricity, but we still put candles on a cake and make a wish when we blow them out. Did you know that a strong straight flame means the arrival of a stranger?
Cats: If a cat washes its face and paws more than three times you can expect company. Black cats bring luck, grey cats even more luck but white cats bring sickness. Some people believe that if a cat follows you, you can expect some money soon. If a black cat crosses your path it is said to bring bad luck – yet there are ways to counteract this, one is to go home and start out again; another is to take 12 steps backwards!
Christmas: A child born on Christmas day is supposed to be lucky and able to understand the language of animals. In the northern hemisphere a white Christmas means fewer deaths in the year ahead, a lack of snow means the opposite.
Clover: Finding a four-leafed clover is lucky. Putting it into your left shoe guarantees this luck.
Coins: It’s considered lucky to carry a coin bearing the year of your birth. The Scot’s believe if you put a coin in each shoe on New Years Day you’ll have money all year.
Dogs: Many people believe that a howling dog is the sign of death. If a Strange dog comes into your house it is considered lucky although some people believe the opposite. A dog lying at the doorway looking out is a sure sign of a visitor. If your dog is looking in then someone is about to leave for the day,
Eyes, ears, eyebrows: All have the same meaning when they itch or irritate. Right signifies spite so if you right ear burns, itches, or rings it means someone is saying bad things about you. Left is for love, so if it’s your left ear, eye, and eyebrow itching or twitching someone is talking lovingly about you.
Fingernails: It’s considered lucky to cut your fingernails on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday but unlucky on a Friday. When you cut your nails make sure you dispose of the clippings so no-one can cast a spell over you.
Flowers: Saying it with flowers carries a whole new meaning when you consider the following: Carnations are for fidelity; daisies say you’re sorry; honeysuckle means constancy; lilies say “you are the only one for me;” roses say I love you; violets indicate hope and marigolds represent wisdom.
Gloves: Dropping your gloves means a disappointment. You can avoid this by allowing someone else to pick them up for you.
Hair: Cutting your hair when there’s a new moon means it will grow faster. A cowlick is considered lucky. Some people believe rain makes your hair grow faster. A stray hair on your shoulder means a letter before the end of the week. If you drop your comb whilst combing your hair it means you will have an argument with the first person you come across.
Hands: If the left palm itches you’ll receive money, if your right hand itches it’s time to pay out money. Another superstition says; when two people share the same basin to wash their hands they’ll have a quarrel before the day is out.
Hats: It’s considered unlucky to wear a hat indoors or to place a hat on a bed.
Horses: Two white horses are considered lucky. Horseshoes are said to bring good luck if hung above the door with the ends pointing upwards. Most horseshoes have seven nail holes – number seven is believed to be protective.
Houses: When visiting a house never leave by the same door you entered, if this is not possible then don’t let yourself be led out the door! If a door opens by itself you can expect a visitor. If you happen to lock yourself out and manage to climb in through a window, you should open the door then climb back out the window and re-enter through the door, otherwise you will be hounded by bad luck for the rest of the year.
Insects: Busy ants predict bad weather. Ladybirds bring good luck. Killing spiders brings rain. Finding a spider on your clothes means a letter, money or both.
Journeys: If you turn back after setting out you can expect frustrations throughout the day. To avoid this, turn around three times before returning home, then – if you can, take a different route to your destination. Some say it’s an omen if you begin a journey on the 13th of the month – but whether it’s a good or bad omen is not mentioned.
Mirrors: Breaking a mirror means seven years bad luck (we’ve all heard this one). Did you know it’s considered unlucky to look into a mirror by candlelight? Once a bride has dressed she should not look backwards into the mirror. Don’t look into the mirror holding an animal.
Moon: Some say it is unlucky to look at the moon over your left shoulder. A halo around the moon means rain. It’s considered good luck if you first see the moon through the branches of a tree.
Nails: If you find a nail with its point facing towards you then good luck will be yours for the rest of the day.
New Year’s Day: Having empty pockets on this day means having little or no money throughout the year, but drinking the last drop from any bottle is considered good luck! Having someone tall and dark as the first to visit you is considered lucky…
Noses: Some say an itchy nose means you’ll be kissed by a fool; others say you are getting ready for a fight. Body Language devotees will say you are lying. If your nose bleeds for no apparent reason some say you are in love!!
Numbers: Who amongst us can say he or she hasn’t got a lucky number or two?
Opals: These are thought to be unlucky yet if you were born in Libra this is your birthstone.
Peacock Feathers: Traditionally, the feathers of the Peacock are considered unlucky.
Playing Cards: Dropping the cards can bring bad luck. Cards considered unlucky include the Nine of Diamonds (the curse of Scotland). The Four of Clubs (called the devil’s bedpost); and the Ace of Spades (often referred to as the death card if drawn whilst cutting the cards). To change your luck, ask for a new deck – or get up from the table, turn around three times and rejoin the game ( you might look a bit stupid doing this at the Casino but “who cares.”
Peapods: If you find a pod with nine peas it is considered a good omen – so make a wish, throwing the pod over your right shoulder as you do.
Pins: See a pin, pick it up, all day long have good luck. How many times have you recited this little rhyme?
Pictures:When a picture falls it means bad luck. If it’s a photograph or painting of someone, tragedy could soon befall that person.
Rabbits Foot:Unlucky for the rabbit but considered lucky by many.
Rainbows: Make a wish when you see a rainbow and your wish will come true. If you see a rainbow on a Saturday, good luck is on its way to you.
Rats: We all know that rats leave a sinking ship, but rats leaving a house have the same meaning! To catch two rats in a trap is considered lucky!
Rings: A birthstone ring is said to bring good luck. It’s considered bad luck to remove your wedding ring in public.
Shirts: Putting your shirt on inside out means a bad day ahead, but if you leave it on and wear it inside out it is supposed to bring good luck.
Shoes: It is considered bad luck to put new shoes on a table, but lucky to throw an old shoe at a newlywed – one of the reasons shoes are traditional tied to the wedding car.
Skirts:Kissing the upturned hem of a skirt is supposed to bring luck to the wearer. If your petticoat hangs below your skirt you must make a wish before adjusting it or you will have a bad day ahead.
Slippers: It is supposed to be unlucky to cross your slippers as it brings a bad encounter into the house.
Scissors: If you drop a pair of scissors you should tread on them gently before picking them up to avoid arguments. Hanging your scissors on a nail or hook brings good luck. If someone gives you a pair of scissors, give them a coin in return.
Snails: To see a lot of snails, or snails crawling to higher ground, is a sure sign of rain.
Spoons: Dropping a spoon means a visitor. Dropping a large soon means a whole family or visitors. Dropping a knife means a strange man will call. Dropping a fork means the arrival of a woman.
Stars: If you wish upon a star your wish will come true. A shooting star brings good luck.
Thirteen: The number 13 has a long history and has been considered unlucky throughout most of it. If 13 people gather at any one time it is said one will be dead within 12 months! Friday the 13th is considered unlucky by some – others say it is a day on which to try out every superstition in an effort to break any jinx.
Towels: How many believe that if you drop a towel a visitor will arrive?
Umbrella:It’s considered very unlucky to leave an umbrella open or to open it indoors.
Weddings: Losing a wedding ring can mean losing a husband / wife. If a cat sneezes in the brides home on her big day it means rain.
Wishbones: Many of us have pulled upon a wishbone and made a wish as we snapped off the larger part. Another superstition is that person who gets the short piece will marry first or, if both people are married already, attract a lover.
Wood: How often have you: “touched wood “when you want something to come true?
No matter whether you believe in superstitions or not, you have to admit at one time or another you have either thrown salt over your shoulder, touched wood or wondered if, by walking under a ladder you are tempting fate.