I feel so happy and alive with all the beautiful decorations and twinkling lights on the Christmas tree. Part of me wanted to keep it up for the rest of 2019. The Christmas tree gave me a sense of hope. Maybe because the lights are on all the time and thought of not living in darkness even part of the time seems to me to be lucky.
We are told to take the decorations down on the 12th day, which to my calculations is the 5th January. Apparently, if we take it down even one minute after midnight it is considered as bad luck. The 6th January is Epiphany day also known as The Three Kings Day. Which is when the Star of David led the three wise men to baby Jesus? So why is that bad luck?
If you look back in history, people use to decorate their homes with holy and ivy and it was believed that tree-spirits lived in the greenery. While the festive season provided shelter for these spirits during the winter, they needed to be released outside once Christmas was over. If this custom was not followed, greenery would not return and vegetation would not grow as a result. As I do not understand the former, I am inclined to believe the latter, whether it is true or not. This theory must have played a part in the rules about removing the decorations and has been distorted through the centuries.
Over the centuries, people have adhered to superstitions even though many believe that they are ridiculous, but why? Why do we make ourselves believe? Maybe and just maybe if we do not and something bad happens we will always think, if I had not walked under that ladder, this would not have happened.
It sounds unbelievable in this modern scientific society that we can still feel tide to such beliefs. Will I walk under a ladder? No way!!! I consider myself an intelligent person but every part of my being will still not allow me to do this.
In childhood, we learn to cross our fingers for good luck, why? Crossing ones fingers traditionally symbolises the cross and hence good luck. Without going in-depth in religion, Jesus died on the cross, how is that good luck? Many believe he was meant to die for our sins, so he could rise again and make believers of us all. Is that the point? However many of our children cross their fingers when they are about to tell a lie, is the cross-meant to protect them from the sin of that lie, protect them from the wrath of god. The truth is they do it out of habit, something they have learned.
Many of us have been told since childhood, don’t do that it is bad luck or hear adults say ‘touch wood or knock on wood’ for good luck. This superstition dates back centuries. Throughout history, many cultures believed trees were a home for spirits and mystical creatures. People often knocked on the bark of a tree or simply touched the trunk when calling on a spirit for a favour or a bit of good luck. Today, this superstitious knock for good luck is done on anything made of wood, not just trees.
We have been indoctrinated to believe by our family and friends since childhood in superstitions. Superstitions have been passed down through the centuries, but as we have become more educated through science, why do we still believe?
I understand the meaning of many of these superstitions but traditionally they were born out of ignorance and paganism. Some however have religious meaning and have indeed come from the bible, the Torah and the Quran to name a few. One such example in these holy scriptures talk about new beginnings and in the New year we should ensure our homes are clean from top to bottom. Where new clothes on New Year ’s Day, make sure you have something new in your home. This all symbolises a new beginning. Cleaning away the bad and opening your home and heart to the new.
However, there are so many other superstitions that we follow, which have no religious basis that I could find. So why do we follow them? Some superstitions do however make sense when you look for the alternative meanings?
Opening an umbrella indoors brings bad luck
There are a number of theories relating to this one. Some say it started in Egyptian times when umbrellas were used to protect people from the sun and if opened indoors was an insult to the sun god and hence the bad luck. Another theory dates back to England in the 18th century. At that time, large umbrellas with metal spokes became popular. Opening these big umbrellas indoors could hurt someone or break a nearby object and lead to arguments with friends or family. Therefore, people avoided opening umbrellas inside, and the superstition grew from there. Which one am I inclined to believe? The second, It makes sense, but if you are inclined to believe the first theory then who dishes out that bad luck? Can you not argue that the sun god would be insulted that you are protecting yourself from his rays by using an umbrella?
Placing your handbag on the floor
This is considered to be bad feng shui. Your purse is considered a symbol of your wealth and placing it on the floor is disrespectful. It is felt that you do not value your wealth. In China they say “a purse on the floor is money out the door” as the floor is the lowest point. Alternatively, could it simply be if you place your purse on the floor someone can easily steal it and yes bad luck because you lost your valuables?
Feng shui teaches us to de-clutter our homes and place furniture in a way to allow the proper flow of energy. Does this not simply mean de-cluttering our minds and by doing so leads to better decisions. I have noticed when I clean my home and put things away, I feel free and my mind has more clarity. Again is this simple psychology.
So are these superstitions or simply common sense?
Moreover, there are so many superstitions that science has taught us that they simply do not make sense.
A horseshoe brings good luck
Horseshoes are believed to be a lucky charm in many cultures. Indeed, I use to have one. Over the years it has been misplaced by moving home. So why is the horseshoe lucky? In times of old, it was believed that iron was a magical metal as it can withstand fire and therefore many thought this gave iron horseshoes mystical powers and the ability to ward off bad luck. Some believed the horseshoe should point upwards like a “U” to collect good luck and prevent it from escaping, but others thought it should face down. That way, good luck could pour onto those who walked under it.
Breaking or cracking a mirror
Breaking a mirror causes a mess, simple as that. Many believe however that it will bring you seven years of bad luck, why because breaking a mirror makes a person’s reflection distorted and their soul would be damaged and hence seven years of bad luck. It would take seven long years for the soul to repair itself. Seriously people!!!!
Just to name a few others:
- In the US- See a penny pick it up all day long you will have good luck.
- India – Do not trim your nails at night it is bad luck. They will not grow properly. This is all about not using sharp objects at night because of the dim lighting. Nothing to do with bad luck, simply a safety measure.
- Russia – leave empty bottles on the floor, back in the day it was done to avoid paying for all the bottles of alcohol that they drank, as they were hidden.
- Rwanda – women should not eat goat meat because it allegedly caused facial hair and made them suborn. Really, some adhere to the theory that men created this superstition so they could have more meat to themselves
As I have stated in a previous article, if we have free will, do we not hinder that free will by believing in superstition. If we are the makers of our own destiny then surely common sense should prevail. The atheist among us may refer to god as superstitions nonsense something that is not real but who many still believe in. By believing in a higher being, does that not mean our destiny is pre-written or can we argue that god gave us free will and just guidance in how we use that free will? Science teaches us that superstitions are illogical. I guess there are so many different viewpoints but can you simply believe in both. Many superstitious beliefs are psychological, if we believe we will get better we do or if we believe that knocking on wood will give us good luck, it does. But it doesn’t in the way you think. You have a more positive outlook and therefore that makes us act differently and think differently. If you happen to walk under a ladder, for those who believe this is bad luck, you will all day be expecting something terrible to happen and bad luck may just befall you. This bad luck could simply be tripping on a paving stone or the pair shoes you were desperate to buy has been sold out. Is this bad luck? Or simply because you were not paying attention or simply the shoes just sold out.
My conclusion is simple if it makes you feel better than do it. Believe in what makes you feel stronger and makes you feel positive. In life, we should draw on the positives regardless whether those positives are deemed to others to be ridiculous.