Essays

Superstitions

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The little ghosts and goblins have collected their candy and left the scene. Halloween is over, but spells, witchcraft and superstitions are alive and well.

Here in Carpenter Country–where knocking on wood, refusing to walk under a ladder or picking up coins from the sidewalk is a common practice–we decided to check out the meaning behind a few of these rituals and how they’ve changed over time.

Centuries ago knocking on wood was a way to pacify jealous gods who might avenge themselves on anyone silly enough to boast about being happy. Today this rite is used to ward off bad luck.

Walking under a ladder has always been a precarious undertaking. In the past it was thought supernatural beings ascended and descended ladders set up between heaven and earth–therefore walking under a ladder became a big risk since you might accidentally meet up with one of these mystical souls. Now we’re more afraid of falling objects.

These days finding a heads-up penny on the ground means good luck. Folks from another era called it a gift from an angel.

Superstitious beliefs are worldwide and cover a multitude of notions. Most everyone’s heard about never opening an umbrella indoors. Not allowing women on ships. Or that spells and witchcraft can cure any illness.

Contemporary education may make a modern person laugh at such ideas, yet many of us go out of our way to step around a crack or avoid the number 13.

And a whole lot of us still knock on wood.

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