Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Good luck and bad luck superstitions and their explanations in British
I. General Facts about superstitions:
Superstition is a very important aspect of our life. Many superstitions, also known as folklore, have shaped the lives and cultures of people dating back to the earliest known civilizations. Though objective opinions consider superstitions to be nothing more than a set of superstitious practices continues on even through modern time.
The attribution of an effect in connection to an irrelevant cause is very telling of the timelessness of human nature and the desire to find meaning and reason behind everything. Because there are occurrences and results that do not always make sense in daily life, analytic minds naturally search for patterns in cause and effect, as a means to bringing order and explanation out of chaos and unexplainable occurrences. Therefore, if a favorable or unfavorable result follows a given course of action, it becomes easy for human mind to draw on what is known about cause and effect.
Superstitions are largely considered to be associated with the existence of certain mysterious forces, especially evil spirits that were supposed to bring bad luck to one unless certain actions were taken to prevent the bad effects. These actions could include modifying an individual’s behavior, avoiding certain action or wearing amulets or lucky charms.
Superstitions can be personal or cultural. Personal superstitions are bred from experiences that an individual has during his life time. However, cultural superstitions are those that one is supposed to believe in, because they have been followed over generations of people.
II. Bad lucks and their explanations:
1. Walking under a ladder:
Receiving bad luck for walking under a ladder is a common superstition and modern man has found reasons to justify it. Some ladders are not particularly safe. If someone is on a shaky ladder, someone walking under it might endanger both persons. A ladder up to a roof might suggest people are working on a roof. To walk under the ladder might endanger the person on the ground if things fall off the roof. Even walking near a site where people are working above is somewhat fraught with danger. People can and have been injured by things dropping from overhead.
But this is a very old superstition, and has more justification than the obvious.
Christians believe in the Trinity—that God is made up of three parts, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit). This made the number three sacred, and the triangle was by association also sacred with its three sides. A ladder leaning up against a building was seen as a triangle (the ladder itself making one side, the building wall making up a second side, and the ground connecting the two making the third side.) To walk through this triangle, by walking under the ladder, was seen as breaking the Trinity. The bible talks about the one unforgivable sin being blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, so someone who breaks the Trinity is seen to be in league with the Devil; being labeled such in the old days of Christianity was a quick way to invite the hangman and witch trials.
Before the gallows were invented, murderers were hung from the top of a ladder, and when they died, it is said that their ghosts remained for a long time where they had fallen. This made ladders very unpopular places.
Another explanation also relates to the medieval gallows. A ladder was placed against the gallows so that after a public hanging, the body could be cut down. If you happened to walk under the ladder as this was happening, you could be hit by the dead body.
Yet another explanation comes from ancient Egypt. The Egyptians believed...