Common Superstitions From Around The World That People Believe




An image showcasing a diverse collection of objects symbolizing worldwide superstitions: a black cat crossing paths, a broken mirror, a four-leaf clover, a horseshoe, a ladder, and a rabbit's foot

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Do you ever catch yourself knocking on wood or avoiding black cats? Superstitions are ingrained in cultures around the world, shaping how people perceive and navigate the world. In this article, we explore common superstitions from various corners of the globe. From breaking mirrors to walking under ladders, you’ll discover the fascinating beliefs that have stood the test of time. So, buckle up and prepare to delve into the intriguing world of superstitions.

Key Takeaways

  • Knocking on wood is a common superstition that is believed to bring good luck and ward off bad luck. It has origins in ancient times and is practiced in various cultures with different variations such as tapping three times or spitting on wood.
  • Breaking a mirror is considered to bring seven years of bad luck in ancient Roman superstition. Mirrors were believed to reflect the soul, and breaking them was seen as a negative act. Different cultures have variations in the duration of bad luck and may perform rituals, like throwing salt over the left shoulder, to counteract the negative effects.
  • Walking under a ladder is believed to invite bad luck, while stepping on cracks is believed to harm mothers. These superstitions are deeply ingrained in various cultures, and opening an umbrella indoors is also thought to bring bad luck.
  • Crossing paths with a black cat is associated with bad luck in many cultures. Black cats are often associated with witches and evil, and crossing paths with them is believed to signify impending death, illness, or financial loss. However, in Japanese folklore, black cats are seen as bringers of good fortune and protectors against evil spirits.

Knocking on Wood

An image showcasing the universal act of "knocking on wood" superstition

If you want to avoid tempting fate, you should always make sure to knock on wood. This superstitious act has its origins and history deeply rooted in different cultures around the world. The belief behind knocking on wood is that it brings good luck and wards off any potential bad luck or negative events.

The origins of this superstition can be traced back to ancient times, where trees were considered sacred and believed to be home to powerful spirits or deities. By knocking on wood, people believed they were awakening these benevolent spirits, who would then protect them from any misfortune.

Interestingly, the act of knocking on wood varies across different cultures. In some cultures, people tap on wood three times to ensure good fortune, while in others, they knock on wood to reverse any jinx or bad luck. In certain cultures, people even spit on the wood before knocking on it to ward off evil spirits.

As we transition into the subsequent section about ‘breaking a mirror,’ it is important to note that both superstitions revolve around avoiding bad luck. While knocking on wood is believed to bring good luck, breaking a mirror is associated with seven years of misfortune. So, be careful where you step and always keep some wood nearby to knock on when needed.

Breaking a Mirror

An image featuring a shattered mirror reflecting a solitary figure, surrounded by seven years of bad luck symbols from diverse cultures: a black cat, a ladder, a broken mirror, and a cracked mirror

Breaking a mirror is believed to bring seven years of bad luck. This superstition has its historical origins in ancient Rome, where mirrors were considered to be reflections of the soul. It was believed that breaking a mirror would cause harm to the soul and bring about misfortune. This belief spread across cultures and has become a common superstition worldwide.

Cultural variations exist in the belief of breaking a mirror. In some cultures, breaking a mirror is believed to bring not just seven years, but even a lifetime of bad luck. In other cultures, the duration of bad luck may vary. For example, in Chinese culture, breaking a mirror is thought to bring three years of misfortune, while in Indian culture, it is believed to bring five years of bad luck.

Regardless of the duration, the common theme across cultures is the belief that breaking a mirror is an omen of bad luck. To avoid this, some cultures have developed rituals to counteract the negative effects. For instance, throwing salt over the left shoulder after breaking a mirror is believed to ward off the bad luck in Western cultures.

While the belief in the superstition of breaking a mirror may vary from culture to culture, many still hold onto this belief and take precautions to prevent breaking mirrors.

Walking Under a Ladder

An image showcasing the superstition of walking under a ladder

When walking under a ladder, you risk inviting bad luck into your life, continuing the theme of superstitions that can bring misfortune. Here are some other superstitions that are believed to bring bad luck:

  • Stepping on cracks: Many people believe that stepping on cracks in the pavement will bring bad luck or harm to their mothers. This superstition has its roots in the saying, "Step on a crack, break your mother’s back."

  • Opening an umbrella indoors: It is believed that opening an umbrella indoors will bring bad luck. This superstition originated from the notion that opening an umbrella indoors would disrespect the sun god, who was believed to provide protection from the rain.

  • Breaking a mirror: Breaking a mirror is said to bring seven years of bad luck. This superstition is believed to have originated from the ancient Romans, who believed that mirrors were connected to the soul. Breaking a mirror was believed to shatter the soul, leading to prolonged misfortune.

These superstitions are deeply ingrained in various cultures around the world and are still followed by many today. However, it’s important to remember that superstitions are based on beliefs and do not have any scientific evidence to support them.

Now, let’s move on to another superstition: crossing paths with a black cat.

Crossing Paths With a Black Cat

An image displaying a dimly lit alleyway at twilight, with a solitary figure frozen in fear as a sleek black cat gracefully crosses their path

As you continue exploring superstitions that can bring bad luck, let’s now delve into the belief surrounding crossing paths with a black cat. This superstition is deeply rooted in black cat folklore and legends that have been passed down through generations. The origins of the superstition surrounding black cats can be traced back to ancient times, where they were associated with witches and believed to be their familiars. In medieval Europe, black cats were thought to be the companions of witches and were often considered to be a sign of evil and misfortune.

The belief that crossing paths with a black cat brings bad luck is prevalent in many cultures around the world. In some cultures, it is believed that crossing paths with a black cat signifies impending death or illness. In other cultures, it is seen as a sign of impending financial loss or misfortune.

Despite the negative connotations, black cats are also considered to be symbols of good luck in some cultures. In Japanese folklore, for example, a black cat is believed to bring good fortune and protect against evil spirits.

Whether you believe in the superstition or not, crossing paths with a black cat continues to be a fascinating and widely recognized superstition that sparks curiosity and intrigue.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Origin of the Superstition of Knocking on Wood?

When discussing the origin of the superstition of knocking on wood, it is important to consider the cultural significance. Many cultures have superstitions related to wood, and knocking on it is believed to ward off bad luck.

Are There Any Variations or Different Beliefs Associated With Breaking a Mirror in Different Cultures?

In different cultures, breaking a mirror can bring bad luck. People have various beliefs and traditions to counteract the negative effects. It’s fascinating how different cultures have their own rituals and superstitions.

Why Is Walking Under a Ladder Considered Bad Luck?

Walking under a ladder is considered bad luck because it’s believed to symbolize a triangle, which is associated with the Holy Trinity. This superstition has cultural significance and is believed to bring misfortune.

How Did the Superstition of Crossing Paths With a Black Cat Originate?

The superstition of crossing paths with a black cat originated from various cultural beliefs. Different cultures have their own variations, like breaking mirrors, which are thought to bring bad luck.

Are There Any Specific Rituals or Actions One Can Take to Counteract the Bad Luck Associated With These Superstitions?

Wearing certain colors or carrying specific items can bring good luck and counteract bad luck in different cultures. Some believe that specific prayers or chants can ward off bad luck associated with superstitions in various cultures.


So, there you have it, a glimpse into the world of common superstitions. While some may dismiss these beliefs as mere folklore, it’s fascinating to see how deeply ingrained they are in various cultures. Whether you choose to knock on wood, avoid walking under ladders, or steer clear of black cats, superstitions continue to captivate our imaginations. So next time you catch yourself questioning these traditions, remember that sometimes it’s the little quirks and beliefs that make life just a little more interesting.

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