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Many of us know of someone who is superstitious, or maybe you yourself are.

Some believe they can change the way of fate – and others think they’re a load of nonsense.

Even if you don't consider yourself a particularly superstitious person, you might say "bless you" when someone sneezes.

You can thank superstition for that, because it used to be believed that it would stop the develop from stealing their soul.

From breaking a mirror, walking under a ladder, seeing a magpie or opening an umbrella inside, there are many different superstitions – and they vary from culture to culture.

Here we’ve put together the most common superstitions, along with where they come from and what they all mean.

What are superstitions?

A superstition is a certain belief that people believe can change fate and a belief in supernatural influences.

These can involve good or bad luck, depending on the type of superstition that is created or that people believe.

It can be a practice or action that someone performs in a reaction to the superstition. Others could be sayings or phrases that are used when a certain superstition occurs.

Where do superstitions come from?

It is said superstitions first began centuries ago and have since developed and evolved over time, with new one’ being created too.

Superstitions began when people tried to explain unusual or mysterious circumstances and events when they didn’t have the correct knowledge at the time.

The development of science over the years helped explain these circumstances or events but people still strongly believed in superstitions even if science explained them.

For instance, many years ago people did not know how a mirror showed their own reflection but believed the reflection was part of the soul.

Since then, superstitions have stuck with many people believing they can change fate.

What do they mean?

Different superstitions mean different things, some have just a small meaning whereas others people believe can cause something much bigger.

Here are the most common superstitions we come across today.

Walking under a ladder


Dating back to medieval times, walking under a ladder is said to bring bad luck because it resembled the gallows, which they used to hang people from.

Breaking a Mirror


Breaking a mirror will give you seven years of bad luck, according to ancient history. This dates back to Roman times when people believed that their reflection in the mirror was their soul.

Therefore breaking the mirror would damage their soul which couldn’t be fixed for seven years.

A black cat crossing your path


Seeing a black cat cross your path can cause people to believe you will receive bad luck. This is because of their relation to witches and demons, a supposed symbol of evil.

Some people even avoid purchasing a black cat because of this superstition.

Number 13

The number that many people believe to be bad luck stems from the Christian belief and the Bible.

At the last supper, Judas, who later betrayed Jesus was the 13th member at the meal to sit down. A long with this, Jesus’ crucifixion was on Good Friday, which oriented Friday 13th becoming an unlucky date.

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Touch wood

People believe in order not to ‘jinx’ something or for something to happen or not to that when you speak aloud about that, you should touch wood.

Pooped on by a bird

Turning a bad situation into a good one, being pooped on is in fact meant to provide you with good luck.

Seeing a magpie

‘One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy, five for silver, six for gold, seven for a secret, never to be told, eight for a wish, nine for a kiss, ten for a bird you must not miss.'

One of the longer sayings but one that people still believe depending on how many magpies you see at one time.

New shoes on the table

Is meant to cause bad luck, believing it originated from the North of England, relating to the coal mining industry.

When a minor died, the family would place their own shoes on the table as a tribute, so is now seen to be tempting fate.

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Opening an umbrella inside

This is also meant to provide bad luck, which people also say you should never stand under whilst inside especially.

This superstition dates back to ancient Egypt when peacock feathers and papyrus was used to protect people from the sun.

Using this inside was said to be an insult and that you would be cursed if done so.

Four-leaf clover

Finding a four-leaf clover is meant to provide luck but can cause some difficultly to find one. It is meant to be a symbol of luck and good fortune.

  • Bible
  • Science
  • Family

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