As luck would have it

The most common believed superstitions at the school


Kaitlyn Gordon

Photo illustration

Story by Cate Rounds, culture editor

Cross your fingers, knock on wood, step on a crack and you’ll break your mother’s back. From hopeful wishes upon stars to unlucky black cats crossing your path, superstitions have defined society for centuries. Each culture has their own beliefs that define them. Some are thought to bring good luck and infinite wishes while others aren’t so nice.

According to a survey of students, the most believed superstitions had to do with good luck. Some of the most iconic superstitions, such as a black cat crossing in front of you is bad luck, were not as commonly believed. Most of these beliefs come from things parents told them as children to either scare them or make them hopeful.

  1. Knock on Wood – People knock on wood to either bring them good luck or to reverse bad luck. The superstition is believed to have originated with ancient European cultures, such as the Celts, who believed spirits lived inside trees. They would knock on or touch the tree to bring them protection from the spirits or to thank the spirits for their good luck. There is another theory that Christians link it to the wood on the cross during Christ’s crucifixion.
  2. Lucky Penny – There is a common rhyme, “Find a penny, pick it up. All day long, you’ll have good luck.” Most people believe if they find a penny heads up on the ground, it will bring them good luck. This superstition revolves around the ancient belief of the struggle between good and evil: heads up was good, tails up was bad. Metal was also believed to be a gift from the gods in ancient times.
  3. Shooting Star – As a kid, shooting stars always had a feeling of magic with them. This was probably brought about with the song “When You Wish Upon A Star” from “Pinocchio.” There are two theories to where this belief began. One is that Europeans believed when gods moved in the sky, a star would fall down. The other was Greeks thought these stars were fallen souls, and it was lucky to wish on them.
  4. Opening Umbrella Indoors – The bad luck associated with this likely stems from when they first were invented in the 18th century. At that time, umbrellas were unruly, and anyone or anything near it when opened could easily get hit. 
  5. Unlucky 13 – Unlucky number 13 may be one of the most commonly known superstitions due to its affiliation with Friday the 13th. The number was most feared by mathematicians and scientists in ancient times. Twelve was considered a perfect number, and 13 was unusual and unsettling. Fear of the number coincides with the thirteen gets at the Last Supper (Jesus and His 12 apostles). The 13th and last guest to arrive was Judas, who would be the one to betray Jesus.
  6. Blowing a Dandelion – Springtime means dandelions. Dandelions means wishes coming true. Ever since you were a kid, you were told blowing the seeds off dandelions would bring good luck. There is not a specific origin to wishing on dandelions, but many people believe the seeds carry your thoughts and dreams to loved ones.
  7. Macbeth – Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth” is known around the theatre community as “the cursed play.” If someone says “Macbeth” in a theatre, their production is cursed. This superstition originated when Shakespeare was first writing the play and went to study their spells to model them for the witches in the play. Without the witches’ permission, he used their authentic spells in the script. The witches then cursed the play and all who performed it. The opening night of “Macbeth,” the actor playing Lady Macbeth died onstage. Thespians avoid using the term instead using “The Scottish Play.”

Whether you believe in superstitions or not, they have defined our culture’s actions for thousands of years. They help bring a sense of security for good luck and keep people cautious and aware. These beliefs will continue to define our world for years to come.