Have you ever paused in your tracks when a black cat crossed your path, or thrown salt over your shoulder after spilling it? Knock on wood: 7 common superstitions and the quirky explanations behind them Turns out there may be a remedy to bad luck for breaking a mirror. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Do you only knock on wood when you don't want to jinx yourself? If you need help with the Public File, call 210-351-1241. Please try your request again later.This shopping feature will continue to load items when the Enter key is pressed. The first recorded evidence of people saying “Touch wood” (the British version of “Knock on wood”) comes from the 1800s. OK, but what about the whole throwing-it-over-your-left-shoulder business? Telling someone to ‘knock on wood’ is a motor reflex just like saying ‘that’s what she said’, it comes out before you can even stop yourself. Or, maybe rather than knock on the nearest piece of wood, you say the phrase, "Knock wood." Yet while the phrase “knock on wood”—or “touch wood” in Britain—has been part of the vernacular since at the least the 19th century, there seems to be little agreement on how it originated. For those familiar with the Bible, another origin of the superstition comes from the famous Last Supper painting, which shows Judas (remember, the guy who betrayed Jesus) having knocked over salt, spilling it all over the table. Salt was quite the expensive commodity in ancient times, so wasting it was frowned upon. Knock on wood: The quirky explanations behind these 7 common superstitions Turns out there may be a remedy to bad luck for breaking a mirror Dawn Jorgenson , … Other researchers consider knocking on wood a more recent phenomenon. HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. It has often, in ancient world, been considered a perfect number. Even though many cultures have believed for thousands of years that sneezes expelled evil spirits, it is said that in the sixth century A.D., a fatal plague was spreading through Italy. Here are four theories as to where the superstition comes from Some believe the devil hangs out over the left side of the body, waiting for an opportunity to pounce, so throwing salt over that shoulder puts it right in his face, stopping him from attacking. Christians, meanwhile, have often linked the practice to the wood of the cross from Christ’s crucifixion. 44). But chances are, they’ll be sticking around for years to come. Besides spreading disease, sneezing means that your enemy has mentioned your name and Swedes combat such terrible luck by saying “prosit”. Because walking under it was considered a desecration of God, it would, in turn, invite the devil in, bringing bad luck. There's a long list of superstitions many of us follow, but why? It is said that if you bury the broken pieces of a mirror underground and under the moonlight, you can avoid the bad luck. As one of the more commonly-known superstitions, there seems to be various theories on where this one came from. Twice a week we compile our most fascinating features and deliver them straight to you. To build on that, there are two events that play into the theory that 13 is an unlucky number. I do not think it is necessary to have read Ladder but do think it would lend to a better reading experience since there are many references to the plot of the first book. What does knock on wood expression mean? Knock your knuckles on a piece of wood to bring good fortune or ward off bad luck. The phrase originated based on a superstition that knocking or touching wood will ward off evil spirits. Why do we touch wood, or knock on wood, to ward off bad luck? Yet another theory is that people knocked on wood to chase away evil spirits or prevent them from listening in when they boasted about their luck, thereby preventing a reversal of fortune. One can also knock on wood three times after talking about something lucky or serendipitous, in order to ward off the evil spirits who might purposely ruin it. A long, long time ago (think ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks), mirrors were valuable, and (of course) possessed some mystical attributes, according to the Psychic Library. Because a mirror reflected the soul, when one was broken, it signified a break in the person’s health and well-being. Dawn Jorgenson, Digital Content Editor, Graham Media Group. However, the practice is much older than that, and there are a few conflicting origin stories as to where it came from. I'll knock on wood. This superstition is so legit that the term triskaidekaphobia was coined for those who have a fear of the number 13. Learn more. After severe chronic sneezing, death often quickly followed. But that doesn’t answer the question of why we believe black cats bring bad luck. Frequently the movement of knocking on nearby wood is followed by da pokucam u drvo / да куцнем у дрво ("I will knock on wood"), or sometimes by da ne ureknem / да не урекнем ("I don't want to jinx it"). Knocking on tree trunks may have served to rouse the spirits and call on their protection, but it could have also been a way of showing gratitude for a stroke of good luck. Dawn is a Digital Content Editor who has been with Graham Media Group since April 2013. And interestingly enough, superstitious actions like knocking on wood aren't all alike at quelling fears, found researchers from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. In many cultures, it’s a common superstition for people to knock their knuckles on a piece of wood to bring themselves good fortune or ward off bad luck. For them to argue, what would you say to knock on wood? Other parts of Europe, during the Middle Ages, thought of cats as companions of witches, or even witches in disguise. Knock on Wood is the second book in the Superstition Mystery series and picks up right where the first book, Lost Under a Ladder, leaves off. Maybe. Many people in Northern Europe and North America knock so reflexively that they do not even realize that they are doing it, showing how ingrained the tradition is in these cultures. You may be surprised to know that black cats are actually thought to bring good luck in England, Ireland and ancient Egypt — so much so that the cats were well-protected from death and injury. The knock on wood/touch wood superstition has pagan origins, from the spirits and creatures who inhabited the woods – knocking on tree trunks would awaken them for protection. Knocking on wood. Knock Wood Do you knock wood when you say something like, "I'm going to get that promotion." A person who clings on to superstition are those who cannot see the future so they will just knock on wood to gain positivism amidst the hopelessness that is already consuming them. Superstitions are just like all illusions that make people better about certain events and things which cannot be controlled (Marmor, 1994, pp. SUPERSTITIOUS people do all sorts of puzzling things. Wood and trees have an association with good spirits in mythology. As with many superstitions, there are subtle variations and sometimes not so subtle varying origins. In his book “The Lore of the Playground,” British folklorist Steve Roud traces the practice to a 19th century children’s game called “Tiggy Touchwood,” a type of tag in which players were immune from being caught whenever they touched a piece of wood such as a door or a tree. Turkish people often pull on one earlobe and knock on wood twice to ward off a jinx. knock on wood. In medieval times, ladders were often associated with gallows, which is where people faced death by hanging. Italians ‘touch steel’ rather than wood, perhaps more related to iron horseshoes; Poles and Russians touch unpainted wood, Turks knock twice, Latin American knock on wood with no legs (i.e. From that the superstition Spread. Genre - Poetry Grade Level - 3-5 Theme - Superstition, Tradition, History Summary - Knock on Wood is an anthology of poems written by Janet Wong. A different theory is that, because people were hung at the top of rungs of the ladder, their spirit would reside in the triangle the ladder created as it leaned against the gallows. People would knock on wood to beseech friendly spirits for help or to thank them for their assistance. Do you knock on wood or avoid stepping on cracks to prevent something bad from happening? I’m not a particularly superstitious man but I’m certainly guilty of knocking on wood and/or telling people to ‘knock one wood’ … And yet another theory suggests that the triangle created by leaning a ladder up against a wall signified the Holy Trinity -- the spirit of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. In case it’s not enough that breaking a mirror may bring bad luck, that bad luck is said to then persist for seven whole years. We spoke with a few experts to find out where these beliefs come from and why we … Exapme say "I've never gotten hurt, knock on wood" or couldnit work for other things? Touch wood is a superstitious phrase spoken when one has acknowledged some good fortune and wishes the good fortune to continue.Touch wood is the British counterpart to the American knock on wood.Touch wood dates at least from the early seventeenth century, and perhaps earlier. But why? Let's break down the meaning and origin of wood knocking. She graduated from Texas State University with a degree in electronic media. So its successor 13 has gotten a bad rap as a sign of bad luck. As for knock on wood: “To touch wood or knock on wood is a superstition action to ward off any evil consequences or bad luck, perhaps because of some recent action you’ve taken or untimely boasting about your good fortune (“I’ve never been in danger of drowning, touch wood”); it can also be a … Knock on Wood: Poems About Superstitions [Wong, Janet S., Paschkis, Julie] on Amazon.com. Superstition is a belief in supernatural causality that one event leads to the cause of another without any physical process linking the two events, such as astrology, omens, witchcraft, etc., that contradicts natural science. From time to time, we all rap our knuckles on … The French superstition of toucher du bois, or to knock on wood, doesn’t seem strange on the surface since many other countries have the same superstition in their respective cultures.But are you familiar with the origin of it? There is good news, though. This one may date back to ancient pagan times, when people believed spirits lived in trees, and touching or knocking on the tree would protect them from bad luck. Often, when a superstitious person knocks on wood or touches wood, he jocularly taps his head. But it’s not just the superstitious who knock on wood. Why do people knock on wood? knock on wood phrase. This is the Crazy Russian at the Knock on Wood Trail at Superstition. knock on wood definition: 1. said in order to avoid bad luck, either when you mention good luck that you have had in the past…. Knocking on wood … Are some of them silly? Superstitions surrounding evil spirits are ancient, and the idea of touching wood to avoid them is also quite old. Knocking on wood is a superstition that started way back in the 19th century. Whether it's bad luck, mysterious injuries, and foul weather, any of it can be prevented by simply, knocking on wood. One common explanation traces the phenomenon to ancient pagan cultures such as the Celts, who believed that spirits and gods resided in trees. Touching wood also became a significant superstition within Judaism during the Spanish Inquisition. Since at the least the 19th century the phrase “knock on wood”—or “touch wood” in Britain—has been part of the vernacular The phenomenon has been traced to the Celts, an ancient pagan culture, who believed that spirits and gods resided in trees. While the origins of “knock on wood” may never be known for certain, the superstition remains popular around the globe and has even given rise to several local variations. As with many superstitions, there is also a Christian explanation: that the wood represents the Cross, so when you touch or knock on wood, you are asking God to help your luck. In the past, the French believed that spirits lived in trees. All Rights Reserved. All the poems in this text are themed around superstitions in current or historical societies. There are dozens of other superstitions people follow, and many theories as to where they originated. Surely we’ve all knocked on wood to ward off bad luck from something we’ve said, right? Responding with “knock on wood” after the exclamation of a positive statement is said to bring a person continued good luck, a superstition … Definition of knock on wood in the Idioms Dictionary. Why We Knock on Wood. When a black cat would cross your path, it meant the devil was watching you. Knocking on wood may not actually prevent a bad thing from happening, but it does do a good job of lessening our elevated fears, a new study shows. In short, History.com says Western cultures have long associated the number 12 with good and completeness — think 12 days of Christmas, 12 months, 12 zodiac signs, 12 tribes of Israel and 12 labors of Hercules, to name a few. Meaning and Origins. Knock on Wood Lyrics: I don't want to lose this good thing / That I've got, 'cause if I do / I would surely, surely lose a lot / 'Cause your love is better than any love I know / It's like thunder 30. It turns out there are explanations. Knocking on wood is the most common superstition used among people almost completely involuntarily. While the origins of some of these popular superstitions seem pretty silly, many people still do them today. Traditionally, when you speak of your own good fortune, you follow up with a quick knock on a piece of wood to keep your luck from going bad. chairs). While the origins of “knock on wood” may never be known for certain, the superstition remains popular around the globe and has even given rise to several local variations. The pure kind, sea crystals./Spilled salt is magic flung wild." Cats, clovers, ears, and garlic are just a few of the items that carry superstitions. In Irish folklore, touching trees was a way of thanking leprechauns for good luck. (Not getting cousins to argue, just curious) If someone walked under a ladder, it was believed that person would eventually face their death by hanging. People may knock on wood to deflect bad luck. © 2020 A&E Television Networks, LLC. Knocking on wood originated with the children's game of tree tag where the tree was safety. Psychic Library says knocking on the wood was also seen as a thank-you gesture to the gods for bringing blessings and good luck. Say for example your two cousins are in an argument, to keep Them from arguing what would you say to knock on wood? This may have started more as bad form than bad luck. Each of those revolve around a 13th guest at ancient events: Judas (who betrayed Jesus) at the Last Supper, and Loki (a Norse god known for being mischievous) at a dinner party in which there was already a perfect balance of 12 gods in attendance. In Roman times, it was believed that each person’s body would undergo physical regeneration every seven years. So apparently, this wasn’t something that came about for the sake of being polite. It was considered good luck to tap trees to let the good spirits know that you were there. or touch wood. Live Science says the pope urged the healthy to pray for the sick and ordered a light-hearted response, which eventually led to “God bless you” when someone sneezed. FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. “Given that the game was concerned with ‘protection,’ and was well known to adults as well as children, it is almost certainly the origin of our modern superstitious practice of saying, ‘Touch wood,’” he argues. By walking under it, some assumed a dead body could fall on them, causing injury or death. Whether superstitious or not, most folks when gifted with a blessing, especially an unexpected one, feel compelled to literally knock on wood. Apparently, the Pilgrims brought the notion to America, and the association between witches and black cats continues to this day. It’s believed the “bad luck” was brought about as a way to keep people from wasting it. Touching the trees is an acknowledgment of the spirits and puts protection over you from evil spirits. Italians, meanwhile, say the phrase “touch iron” when trying to avoid tempting fate. “The claim that the latter goes back to when we believed in tree spirits is complete nonsense.”. • In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia there is also the habit of knocking on wood when saying something positive or affirmative about someone or something and not wanting that to change.
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