By Allison Ford, DivineCaroline
I was at work a few years ago when a coworker walking by my desk let out a terrified squeal. ďYour purse is on the floor! Donít you know thatís bad luck?Ē Apparently, she was referring to a superstition which holds that to place your purse or wallet on the floor is to invite money troubles. I had never heard of this old wivesí tale and didnít lend it much credibility, but on my way home, I did notice my lifelong habit of avoiding sidewalk cracks, surely a leftover from a youthful urge to protect my motherís spinal health.
Superstitions ascribe supernatural origins to things that humans donít understand, and they occur across the world. Early humans had a lot that they didnít understand, but modern people are much more enlightened. Superstitions about bad luck feel like the kind of things we tell gullible children, so why do I still see people knocking on wood, throwing salt over their shoulders, and refusing to walk under ladders? Exactly where do these strange superstitions come from, and do any have even the tiniest basis in reality?
Donít Spill the Salt!
Salt is one of our most ancient and versatile foodstuffs, used for preserving food as well as flavoring it. For most of history, it was incredibly valuable, too, sometimes even used as currency. Spilling such a precious commodity was akin to dumping the thirty-year-old Scotch down the drain. For anyone who was careless enough to waste salt, throwing a pinch over the left shoulder was said to keep the devil away, since he was sure to be following you after such a grievous offense.