I know it’s not true, and I really, really don’t believe it… but I still avoid walking under ladders – unlucky, cross my fingers – for luck, try to encourage black cats to cross my path – lucky… ridiculous!
I’m not sure people are as superstitious as they used to be, even from when I was a child, and I don’t think it is just a new modern, scientific, technological age… I think it is the dying away of part of our culture. Just as children no longer seem to know nursery rhymes or folk songs or fairy stories, or have the faintest clue about major events in history. It’s easy to lay the blame at the door of many things, poor teaching, working parents, imported and 24 hour TV, the desire for modernity and the discarding of the old and traditional… oh so many things, none of which I think are 100% true… Or maybe blame is the wrong word, maybe reason would be better. Maybe superstitions have been replaced by New Age beliefs, zombies, ghouls, witches (not those with black pointy hats) and angels…
There used to be a time when you could be accosted by people trying to sell you heather, lucky white heather, and when if you saw a discarded horse shoe you’d take it home to hang above your door (right way up, of course!) Now you get accosted by people selling the Big Issue, and there are no longer many horses on the roads.
So… who touches wood for luck? Who tries to find four-leaved clover? Who says ‘rabbit, rabbit, rabbit’ on the first day of the month? Who throws a pinch of salt over the shoulder when some is spilt, or tries not to open an umbrella indoors, or is horrified by new shoes upon a table? Who looks round for a second magpie when you can only see one? Lucky number? Unlucky 13? Do two spoons on a saucer mean twins, and two knives mean a stranger, and crossed knives mean a quarrel?