A widely held but irrational belief in supernatural influences, leading to good or bad luck.

  • Touch wood for luck: Romans incorporated this habit, as they firmly believed that this was a way to communicate with the tree spirits.
  • Don't walk under ladders: This was rooted in the christian belief that the Holy Trinity, including the shape of a triangle, should not be violated.
  • Don't put new shoes on table: Legend has it that a member of your family will die if you do this. This superstition comes from the time when a bereaved family would lay a corpse - complete with new outfit on the table in a mourning ritual.
  • Black cat crossing your path: In the middle ages, a black cat was a sign that death was coming. The reason why people dislike the black cat is because it is associated with witches.

  • Saluting a magpie: The magpie was considered an "evil crow" for not wearing full mourning dress for the death of Christ. Saluting the magpie dilute the evil.
  • Friday 13th is unlucky: The best known reason is because Judas - who betrayed Jesus - was the 13th Apostle to arrive at the last supper.
  • Don't step on cracks in pavement: This superstition goes back to the rhyme: "Step on a crack, break your mother's back."
  • Never step on three drains: This is to do with your life being drained away.
  • Throw salt over your shoulder if you spill it: It used to be expensive. For this reason, spilling salt was to be avoided at all costs. By throwing it over your left shoulder, you throw it into the eye of the evil spirits.
  • A broken mirror brings seven years bad luck: This is though to come from the days when it would take a servant seven years of wages to buy another mirror. Also, legend has it that the superstition began with the ancient Romans. They "saw their souls" while looking at their reflections in pools. If someone threw a stone into a pool, breaking up the image, it meant seven years of bad luck.