From eating 12 grapes for good luck on New Year’s to the number of birds flying north impacting a decision, here are 12 answers to the question, “What are some of the most irrational superstitions you have?”
- Eating 12 Grapes Determines the New Year’s Fortune
- Avoid Booking Flights on 9/11
- Step On a Crack…
- Seeing Black Cat Means Bad Luck
- Walking Under a Ladder
- Throwing Salt at Old Scratch
- A Song Brings Misfortune
- Sitting at the Corner of a Table Impacts Your Relationship
- Beginner’s Luck
- Upside Down Bread is Bad
- Knock on Wood
- Birds Flying North or South for Decision Making
Eating 12 Grapes Determines the New Year’s Fortune
Even though I am not proud of it, I picked up an irrational but fun superstition during my visit to Spain. Spanish people believe that eating twelve grapes in the final twelve seconds before midnight on January 1st will bring them luck. The idea is that each grape represents one month of the year. If the grape tastes sweet, that month is supposed to be more enjoyable.
Avoid Booking Flights on 9/11
I always avoid booking flights on 9/11. I’m sure I’m not alone in this fear that something bad will happen if I do. I think this is my most irrational superstition because I know the events of 9/11 can’t be replicated by a simple booking. I’m aware that airplanes today are quite safe and reliable. So, I recognize I have no logical reason to believe anything untoward will happen on a flight I book on that day.
Still, it’s an unfounded belief I can’t seem to shake; every year when planning trips around that date, I find myself making alternative travel arrangements as a precaution. I realize that this belief is as absurd as believing that if I sprinkle water on the floor it’ll start raining, but it’s a sort of mental block I have; one that’s been persistent throughout the years.
Step On a Crack…
When I’m out walking a dog, I still naturally skip the cracks in the sidewalk. My walking gait is such that I step over the cracks without even thinking about it. I heard the phrase “Step on a crack, break your mama’s back” when I was a small child, and developed a habit.
Of course I stopped seeing it as a superstition with those kinds of high stakes soon after. But just the act of making the effort to not step on a crack makes me feel like I’m doing my part to avoid some unforeseen disaster. Hey, it’s worth it if that’s the case!
Seeing Black Cat Means Bad Luck
I grew up seeing my family members acting with caution around black cats and repeating superstitions about their supposed connection to bad luck. Despite being convinced that these beliefs were highly irrational, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was any truth behind them.
As such, seeing a black cat has been the most irrational superstition I’ve held over the years because, despite acknowledging that it’s baseless, I still catch myself acting cautiously in response to having a black cat cross my path.
Walking Under a Ladder
In my experience, the most irrational superstition I’ve encountered is that it’s bad luck to walk under a ladder. This superstition is based on an ancient belief that the ladders represent a gateway between the Earth and Heavens, and it was believed that by walking under one, you would be blocked from entering either of those worlds—a very bad thing indeed!
Of course, modern science has long since disproved this superstition. For example, what’s stopping us from walking through the open door of a building or car without falling off the Earth? Nothing! And yet we run into plenty of buildings every day without feeling any ill effects.
Throwing Salt at Old Scratch
Has anyone you know spilled salt, only to pause and throw it over their shoulder? To ward off bad luck, you know? I have. And I’ve seen many people do this without knowing why. Because “Old Scratch” was thought to be just over your left shoulder, ready to tempt you in other versions of the superstition, the salt was thrown to the left.
While some argue that the sheer value of salt alone led to the belief that spilling it brought bad luck (as it did among Romans), necessitating a corresponding ritual or act of penance to prevent further loss.
A Song Brings Misfortune
There’s one very famous song on the internet that people enjoy, but I have other thoughts about it. Whenever I listen to it or hear it playing somewhere, something unwanted happens to me. That’s not that big of a deal, but certainly it’s not something I want.
I’ve gone so far to test this theory, at least five times now, whenever I’ve played that song, I’ve had to face loss shortly afterward. Now I avoid listening to that song and if someone plays it when I’m around, I either ask them to switch or walk out of the room to secure myself from any other loss. Although this is quite irrational and impossible that there’s a causation, I think precaution is better than the problem.
Sitting at the Corner of a Table Impacts Your Relationship
There is a Polish superstition that you’ll never marry anyone if you sit in the corner of a table. My grandmother shared it with me as a joke when I was a kid, and I never forgot about it. I never sit in the corner, even if I have to sit far too close to someone else. This is irrational, considering I’ve had a stable relationship for three years.
In some situations, beginners end up winning because they’re less anxious about succeeding. After all, excessive anxiety might impair performance. Or, especially in chance-based gambling games, it can just be a statistical fluke. Another reason for believing in beginner’s luck, like many superstitions, is confirmation bias.
People are more inclined to recall situations that support their worldview due to the psychological phenomenon known as confirmation bias. If you think you’re going to succeed because you’re new, you’re more likely to recall all the times you were correct and forget the times you came in last.
Upside Down Bread is Bad
For someone who has suffered badly from food poisoning, anything related to bread always gets to me. This is more like something that’s likely bad etiquette or bringing bad luck along. When I visited France, I heard this feat of laying the loaf upside down in the restaurant. When I further enquired about it, it was linked to a tradition in the Middle Ages.
Back then, the baker set aside a loaf for the executioner, keeping it upside down so it goes to the correct one. Pretty dark, but something you could be afraid of if you have suffered from some kind of bread-related trauma. Often people call this useless, but I picked up this habit and never let it go. So, I could say it’s something that hasn’t happened yet, but I’m just used to it.
Knock on Wood
As a superstitious person, I have to admit that my most irrational superstition is the belief that if I don’t knock on wood after making a wish or saying something bad about myself, it won’t come true. This little habit has been with me since childhood and it still holds strong now.
I remember when I was six years old, my grandmother taught me this superstition and told me to follow it every time I wished for something or said something bad about myself. She said that knocking on wood would ensure good luck and ward off any potential negative energy.
To this day, even though deep down I know how ridiculous this all sounds, whenever I make a wish or say anything self-deprecating about myself—no matter how small—I can’t help but reach out for the nearest wooden object in sight and give three quick taps, just to be safe! It’s become second nature at this point and no one around me understands why, except for those closest to me who share similar beliefs from their own upbringing.
Birds Flying North or South for Decision Making
Most people have superstitions and when they hold firmly to them, they’ll believe what they see over and over again. I also have an irrational superstition that’s especially strong. Whenever I need to make an important decision, I’ll look at the sky and see how many birds are flying and in what direction. I believe that if more birds fly north or south, it means that the decision should be made in a particular way. It may seem irrational, but it’s helped me make better decisions in life so far.
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