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Knocking on wood : the results

Its 1990:

Grandma : “oh shame, I hope they dont get hurt doing that”

Mom & Grandma : knocks on a wooden table, whist saying “touch wood”.

An old English folklore, ’Knocking on wood’ is more than just something over 35’s do as another strange act to all pre-35 year olds. Its official definition, according to our trusted Wikipedia, is this :

Knocking on wood is an apotropaic tradition of literally touching, tapping, or knocking on wood, or merely stating that one is doing or intending to do so, in order to avoid "tempting fate" after making a favorable prediction or boast, or a declaration concerning one's own death or another unfavorable situation.

In all its glory and quite honestly misunderstanding. Knocking on wood 2.0 refers to a form of good luck wished upon someone or a situation. However the horrifying fact is that opportunity doesn’t come with a simple knock or two. It presents itself when you approach said door with a sort of hammering and beating down effort.

This topic got me thinking of some other strange things I grew up hearing. Things that occasionally spring to mind in relevant situations. Its almost as if, I actually consider the potential repercussions of not doing or saying said actions/phrases, as being legitimate risks. Regardless of how bizarre it sounds.

So here is a list of a few of these superstitions and their quirky explanations:

1. Lucky Pennies

“Find a penny, pick it up, all day long, you’ll... HAVE GOODLUCK” - in that exact sort of volume progression. Derived purely from the logical understanding that because pennies are made from metal, if you find them, you’ll have good fortune. (Fun fact, some take it a level further and believe that the luck can go either way depending on whether the penny was found tails up or headsup - eyeroll - that’s where I draw the line).

2. Breaking a Mirror - Badluck

The belief that a broken mirror brings bad luck most likely has its origins in the simple fact that reflections of ourselves are uncanny and often unnerving (particularly on a “bad hair” day), so humans have long had bad associations with them.

3. Walking under a ladder

This actually refers to a christan symbolism : the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit led to an association of the number three with something scared. The triangle, with its three sides, came to be regarded as sacred as well, and a ladder of course forms a triangle, so, naturally, to walk under that ladder would be to destroy the sanctity of the Trinity and thus incur punishment.

4. Itchy Palms.

So I often have this scenario play out in my life. Whenever I have an itchy palm, I immediately scour the room looking for someone who can confirm if its the left or right that means money is coming in or going out. Truth be told, most of the time its a bloody mosquito bite causing said itch.

5. Black cats.

Though cats have often been associated with good luck rather than its opposite and were even worshipped as gods in Ancient Egypt, things took a turn for the worse for our feline friends sometime around the Dark Ages when, in 1232 AD, when Pope Gregory IX declared them an “incarnation of Satan”, well thats according to People magazine anyway.

So as it appears, we as xennials are more likely to continue these sort of superstitous acts, however most of the time its diluted by the lack of knowledge of their origins. So hopefully by the time we have grandkids, that dilution would be significantly greater. To the point that eventually people stop saying them all together.

I have to wonder, is that a good thing, or is that simply a dilution of our existence to date. A nullified time when the human species had these ludacris phrases that would be thrown out because they lacked what will become ‘basic knowledge’.

On that note - Sweet Dreams!


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