The Origins of the 13 Most Common Superstitions Anything
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The Origins of the 13 Most Common Superstitions

Friday the 13th is not just a movie about a guy in a hockey mask with demonic rage issues . It is a real fear for some people. Common superstitions (and their origins) might not be based in reality, but when people believe in something so powerfully it doesn't seem to matter. Whether it is avoiding walking under ladders or crossing paths with black cats to blessing someone when they sneeze, some of these superstitions are so much a part of our lives we don't even know why we do it.

While some of these superstition origins come from religious thoughts, some come from a practical place. Afterall, it's probably a good idea not to open an umbrella in cramped spaces, whether it's bad luck or not. What are the origins of the most common superstitions?

This list has the top 13 common superstitions and their origins. If you were wondering how these common superstitions grew to be well known, and practiced, this list has the answers.

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  1. Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

    This wedding chant became a popular mantra and symbol of good luck for marriages during the 1500s. The full verse goes:

    "Something old, something new
    Something burrowed, something blue
    And a silver sixpence in her shoe."


    The old is to keep connected with the bride's past and her family. The new means optimism for the marriage. The burrowed thing usually comes from a friend who is in a good marriage as a charm for good luck. The reason for blue was that in Roman times, blue was the color of love which the Christians turned into a meaning fidelity. Finally, the sixpence in the shoe was another good luck charm, this one from the Scots who believe that a coin in the shoe guarantees money.

  2. Itchy Palms

    This superstition states that if the right hand itches, money is coming in, but if the left hand itches money is going out. Or, more practically, you're having an allergic reaction to medication. 

    Again the origin for this one is unknown, but the earliest recording of it comes from Shakespeare, in Julius Caesar, Brutus says, "Let me tell you Cassius, you yourself are much condemned to have an itching palm." Oooooo, sick burn, Brutus.

  3. Spilling Salt

    Spilling salt may have been more of a manners issue than a bad luck issue... and then the superstition became habit. Long ago, salt was an expensive commodity, and one that had many useful purposes. Wasting salt was frowned upon, and so it is suggested that people just started saying it was bad luck so they would be more careful with it.

    So now you have this "throw salt over your shoulder" to undo the bad luck... but not just any shoulder you have to throw it over your left shoulder. Why left? You throw it over the left shoulder because in some Christians believe the Devil hangs about over the left side of the body, looking for an opportunity to invade.  

    Another thought as to why spilling salt is bad is linked to the last supper. In Da Vinci's painting Judas is seen spilling the salt, so if you spill the salt you might as well just go turn in your best friend so they can be executed.

  4. Wishing

    Every child knows that once everyone has finished singing "Happy Birthday" they must blow out ALL the candles on their cake in one breath, and make a silent wish. If you don't blow them all out at once, or you tell someone the wish... it won't come true.

    The origin of this strange superstition is a mystery. It might be just another "because I said so" moment for parents... as if they were running low on those.

  5. Lucky Charms

    A horseshoe is considered lucky because, according to legend, the Devil can only move in a circle so when he sees a horseshoe, the gap in the middle confuses him and he turns back and won't bother you. If this is true, the Devil is not as clever as he is publicized to be and maybe we should all rethink giving him so much credit.

    The Rabbit's Foot is considered lucky for a more historical reason. However, it wouldn't be a superstition unless it was silly... so in certain stories the donor rabbit can't just be any rabbit it must possess certain attributes, or have been killed in a particular place, or killed by a particular method, or by a person possessing particular attributes (e.g. by a cross-eyed man).

    It also can't just be any foot, it has to be the left hind foot of a rabbit, and not any left hind foot of a rabbit will do; the rabbit must have been shot or otherwise captured in a cemetery, further more, not just any left hind foot of a rabbit shot in a cemetery will do, it has to be during a full moon, or a new moon. It has to be Friday, preferably a rainy Friday, or Friday the 13th. Some say that the rabbit should be shot with a silver bullet, while others say that the foot must be cut off while the rabbit is still alive. You've gotta work for this lucky charm.

    The idea that a rabbit's foot is lucky comes from the pre-Celtic tradition of hunter clans' rites of passage for their young members. These young males were first introduced to hunting by hunting rabbits. If they were successful, one of the hind feet of the rabbit was presented to them in a ceremony which would welcome them to manhood within the clan. How masculine, instead of a ten point buck to mount on your wall, you get a bunny foot.

  6. God Bless You

    This superstitious has so many possible origins, it's the "choose your own adventure" version of superstitions. Here are you choices:

    1. In 590 AD Gregory I became Pope and the bubonic plague was reaching Rome, sneezing was thought to be the one of the early symptoms. So Gregory I ordered unending prayer and parades of chanters through the streets, so perhaps it was just a timing thing. You sneeze and prayer chanters came by saying "God Bless You" on a loop, it was the hip thing to do at the time.

    2. Some people think your heart stops beating and the phrase "bless you" is meant to ensure that it will start again, as a form of encouragement as it were.

    3. Or maybe it's because your soul can be thrown from your body when you sneeze, it can open your body to be attacked by the Devil (he's such a jerk), or that it was your bodies way of throwing out the Devil or evil spirits (that guy just won't take a hint!). So, saying "bless you" or "God bless you" puts up a shield so the Devil can't get back in.

    4. It could just be a phrase that was said because people didn't really understand what sneezing was and they weren't sure how to respond. It was the "lol" of the times.

    5. Sneezing is a sign that God would answer your prayers, or an omen of good fortune or good luck. In this instance saying 'bless you' is a way of saying "way to go!"

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