10 Superstitions That Are Actually Spot-on (2023)

10 Superstitions That Are Actually Spot-on (1)

A 2000 Gallup poll revealed that only 25 percent of Americans considered themselves either very or somewhat superstitious [source: Moore]. Despite this relatively low number, many people may find themselves participating in superstitious behaviors — actions that appear to be unconnected to the planned or desired results. Even those who consider themselves to be completely ruled by rationality may be surprised to find out just how many common superstitions they comply with on a regular basis — not because of any magical thinking, but simply because these actions or traditions make sense.

Think you can avoid the influence of superstition? Check out these 10 tales, which are deeply rooted in common sense, no matter what your opinion of their more mystical associations.


10: Avoid Ladders

One old wives' tale warns that you should never walk under a ladder. Some believe that this action simply brings bad luck, while others feel it will negatively influence your love life [source: Murrell]. Falling off a ladder is said to bring misfortune because it will cause you to go broke — financially, that is.

The roots of ladder-based superstitions may be due to the triangular shape that the ladder forms when placed up against a wall, reminiscent of the Holy Trinity. Passing through this Trinity is considered disrespectful to God, or even a tribute of sorts to the devil and other evil spirits. Another explanation relies on the fact that hanging victims used to be forced to climb a ladder to reach the noose, giving the ladder an unlucky air [source: Webster].

While either of these explanations may be valid depending on who you ask, do you really need a reason beyond the obvious danger associated with hanging around under a ladder? You could easily be struck by a falling tool — or person — which is sure to bring some fairly swift misfortune, no magical thinking required.

9: Shoes on the Table

Superstition states that placing new shoes on the table can negatively impact future prosperity, while leaving any shoes on the table is likely to lead to a quarrel, or just plain bad luck [source: Murrell]. Traditionally, this legend may be tied to the mining industry; when miners passed away, their relatives would bring their shoes into the home and place them onto the table [source: Tanna].

Though fewer people are involved in dangerous mining jobs today, the shoes-on-the-table superstition still lingers — and makes perfect sense if you think about it. Do you really want people putting their shoes — new or used — on the same surface where you eat? If your family members stuck their shoes on the table, wouldn't you want to argue with them about it, or throw a heaping dose of bad luck their way? This one may date back many years, but it's as valid today as it ever was, though possibly for different reasons.

8: Three to a Match

Sharing a match to light multiple cigarettes makes perfect sense, but when you're a soldier in the battlefield, it can quickly get you killed. The superstition that three to a match will leave one soldier dead dates back to the Crimean War [source: Webster]. Striking a match would alert enemy snipers to your presence, which wouldn't do them much good if you put the match out right away. Leaving it lit for a second soldier to use gave the sniper a chance to aim. By the time the third person used the match, the sniper would be ready to fire, and with so much time to prepare his shot, it wouldn't have taken much luck to hit his target. Sure, there's no reason three friends can't light up using the same match at home, but when it comes to the battlefield, this superstition is still spot-on.

7: No Bananas

If you ever step foot on a fishing boat, you'd better not have a banana in your lunchbox. No, really. As ridiculous as it sounds, the idea that bananas bring bad luck at sea actually makes perfect sense. First, banana peels are really slippery. The last thing you want to have to look out for as you navigate a slippery deck riddled with fish guts is a hidden peel leftover from someone's lunch. In addition, banana peels release methane — a toxic gas — as they ferment [source: Nathoa et al.]. This might not matter much when only one banana is involved, but if you're carrying a larger shipment, the air below deck could quickly turn deadly.

6: Food Fables

According to some common food superstitions, it's bad luck to leave a plate of unfinished food sitting out overnight [source: Webster]. Legend has it that you'll invite the devil in by doing so, but in reality, you're much more likely to invite mice, roaches and other unwanted pests. In other food fable news, it's supposedly a bad omen to drop food on yourself accidentally while you eat. Ya think? Even if it doesn't end up bringing you any serious bad luck, you've still wasted food and left yourself with an unpleasant mess to clean up, or maybe an ugly stain on your clothes, the carpet or your furniture.

More Spot-on Superstitions

10 Superstitions That Are Actually Spot-on (2)

5: Umbrella Lore

Who hasn't heard that it's unlucky to open an umbrella in the house? Legend dictates that opening your umbrella indoors will cause bad luck to rain down on you, while placing an open umbrella over your head indoors will lead to your death within a year [source: Murrell]. If you don't believe in superstition, the truth is probably not quite that drastic, but opening your umbrella in the house is still a bad idea. Not only is there a good chance that you'll knock something over or break some precious family heirloom, but you could also end up poking someone with one of the umbrella's metal points — bringing on even more bad luck.

4: Pregnancy and Water

Superstition warns that pregnant women should steer clear of water. Some stories claim that hanging around large bodies of water could cause a pregnant woman to miscarry [source: Deam]. No magical thinking required here — hanging around or swimming in deep water really isn't a great idea when you've got a swollen belly with which to contend.


Other pregnancy superstitions caution women that they should steer clear of baths during pregnancy. While this one isn't quite accurate, it does have some validity. Long baths may increase the risk of infection, so baths should be kept short. Baths hotter than 98 degrees Fahrenheit (36.67 degrees Celsius) during the first trimester also pose some risk to the fetus and should be avoided [source: Phillips]. Beyond these two rules, there's no reason to avoid baths during pregnancy, though large bodies of water should probably wait until after you deliver.

3: Bedtime Stories

Given how much of your life you spend in bed, it's no surprise that there are plenty of superstitions out there related to the bed, and some of these tales are actually spot-on. Legend has it that placing your bed under a heavy ceiling beam can bring bad luck. Sure, how about if that bad luck came in the form of a heavy beam falling on your head? It's also bad luck for the rays of the moon to shine across your bed. Again, this makes sense, as too much light can keep you from getting a good night's sleep. Finally, it's also considered bad luck to sit at the bedside of a sick person [source: Webster]. Perhaps because such close proximity could cause you to catch the illness yourself?

2: Stairs

Superstitious folk believe that passing others on the stairs brings bad luck, citing biblical passages where angels passed one another in the opposite direction while traveling on a ladder [source: Webster]. This may be as good a reason as any to avoid passing on stairs, but if you don't consider yourself superstitious, consider this: Maybe passing on the stairs brings bad luck simply because you're attempting to pass someone in close quarters, and one of you could trip or fall as a result. Better just wait until the other person exits the staircase before making your move.

Speaking of stairs, another superstition claims that it's bad luck to trip when going down the stairs, though it seems like it would be bad luck to trip in either direction.

1: Ax to Grind

Superstition has it that the ax is an outdoor tool, and bringing this dangerous weapon inside the home, even for a moment, will bring misfortune or death [source: Murrell]. This one is spot-on; in the same way that it's a bad idea to open an umbrella in the house or put your shoes on the table, no good can come of bringing a deadly tool with a razor-sharp blade into the house. There are few uses for an ax indoors, so bringing it inside is simply engaging in unnecessary risk that someone or something will be injured or damaged. Play it safe and keep axes and other tools out in the shed where they belong.

Originally Published: Jul 9, 2015

Superstition FAQ

What are common superstitions?

Common superstitions that some people believe will lead to bad luck include breaking a mirror, Friday the 13th and walking under a ladder. Black cats and dogs are also one of the least adopted pets because an unconscious superstitious bias makes many people avoid them.

What is superstition?

Superstition refers to a practice or belief that ignores reason and science, and is generally associated with old cultural or religious ideas about magic and the supernatural.

Is it bad luck to whistle in the house?

People belonging to different cultures believe that whistling at night can cause bad luck or attract evil spirits. Similarly, there is a superstitious belief called the Seven Whistlers in parts of the United Kingdom, which refers to seven spirits or birds who foretell a great calamity or death.

What happens when you believe in superstitions?

Superstitious beliefs may promote illogical attitudes and irrational decision-making. For others, it may be connected to mental health conditions such as OCD. However, some beliefs are just fun and harmless.

What is an example of a good omen?

There are many good omens that people believe in. Examples include finding a four-leaf clover or horseshoe, having an itchy palm and sneezing three times before breakfast.

Lots More Information

Author's Note: 10 Superstitions That Are Actually Spot-on

I consider myself to be about as anti-superstition as possible — so much so that I find myself trying to stifle a sneeze so people won't bombard me with "bless yous." Despite my skepticism, I found this article to be a delight. It was truly mind-opening to research superstitions that actually made sense in modern times. You still won't catch me knocking on wood or running away from black cats, but I'll probably try to follow many of the superstitions presented here. I really don't have any reason to bring an ax inside or place my bed directly under a heavy beam anyway.

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  • Deam, Jenny. "7 Pregnancy Superstitions." Parents. 2015. (Jan. 5, 2015) http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-life/pregnancy-superstitions/#page=6
  • Mikkelson, Barbara. "Banana Ban." Snopes. July 20, 2013. (Jan. 5, 2015) http://www.snopes.com/luck/superstition/bananas.asp
  • Moore, David W. "One in Four Americans Superstitious." Gallup. Oct. 13, 2000. (Jan. 7, 2015) http://www.gallup.com/poll/2440/one-four-americans-superstitious.aspx
  • Murrell, Deborah. "Superstitions: 1,013 of the Wackiest Myths, Fables and Old Wives' Tales." Amber Books. 2008.
  • Nathoa, Chananchida et al. "Production of Hydrogen and Methane rom Banana Peel by Two Phase Anaerobic Fermentation." Energy Procedia. 2014. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1876610214008224
  • Phillips, Amy. "Can Pregnant Women Take Baths?" University of Arkansas Medical Sciences." 2015. (Jan. 6, 2015) http://www.uamshealth.com/?id=11942&sid=1
  • Tanna, Ruchika. "Don't Put Your Shoes on the Table!" USC Digital Folklore Archives. April 2012. (Jan. 5, 2015) http://folklore.usc.edu/?tag=shoes
  • Webster, Richard. "The Encyclopedia of Superstitions." Llewellyn Publications." 2008.


What are 10 superstitions? ›

Here, then, are 13 of the most common superstitions.
  1. Friday the 13th.
  2. No umbrellas inside. ...
  3. Cross your fingers. ...
  4. Make a wish on a wishbone. ...
  5. Knock on wood. ...
  6. 666. ...
  7. Careful with that mirror. ...
  8. Bad luck comes in threes. ...
Jan 13, 2012

What are 5 superstitions for good luck? ›

Knocking on wood; carrying a good luck charm such as a four-leaf clover, lucky dice or a special gemstone; making a wish on a stray eyelash, falling star, wishing well, rainbow or when blowing out birthday candles are all ways to make good fortune come your way.

What are some very common superstitions? ›

18 Superstitions from Around the World
  • 1. “ Knocking on Wood” Indo-European, Celtic, or possibly British. ...
  • 2. “ Throwing Salt Over Your Shoulder” ...
  • 3. “ Walking Under a Ladder” ...
  • 4. “ Broken Mirror” ...
  • 5. “ Step on a Crack, Break Your Mother's Back” ...
  • 6. “ Lucky Pennies” ...
  • 7. “ Lucky Horseshoe” ...
  • 8. “ Friday the 13th”

What are the worst superstitions? ›

  • Saying the word "Macbeth" or wishing someone "Good Luck" while inside a theatre.
  • Shoes on a table.
  • Three on a match.
  • Tipping a salt shaker over.
  • Viewing one's doppelgänger may be considered a harbinger of bad luck.
  • Killing a ladybug.
  • Walking under a ladder.
  • Black cat crossing one's path.

What is 1 example of a superstition? ›

A mirror which is broken may bring bad luck; it is said, house where mirror was broken cannot get well for a period of seven years. Thirteenth day of a Month is considered as ill-omen; nothing is done on this day. One cannot pass in front of a car. It is considered as ill-omen that a rabbit may pass in front of a car.

Why is the number 13 unlucky? ›

The number 13 may be associated with some famous but undesirable dinner guests. In Norse mythology, the god Loki was 13th to arrive at a feast in Valhalla, where he tricked another attendee into killing the god Baldur. In Christianity, Judas — the apostle who betrayed Jesus — was the 13th guest at the Last Supper.

What are the three superstitions in America? ›

  • Careful with that mirror.
  • Bad luck comes in threes. ...
  • A rabbit's foot will bring you luck. ...
  • Black cats crossing your path. ...
  • Don't walk under that ladder! ...
  • Find a penny, pick it up … ...
  • Beginner's luck. ...
  • 13 Common (But Silly) Superstitions. SHARE THIS PAGE.
May 13, 2011

What can attract luck? ›

9 Ways to Increase Your Luck
  • Believe That You're Lucky. ...
  • Be Clear About Your Goals and Voice them. ...
  • Be Open to Opportunities. ...
  • Surround Yourself With The Right People. ...
  • Increase your Karma score. ...
  • Practice Gratitude. ...
  • Relax. ...
  • Be Proactive.
May 2, 2018

What is beginners luck superstition? ›

Usually grumbled by an expert who just lost a game to a novice, "beginner's luck" is the idea that newbies are unusually likely to win when they try out a sport, game or activity for the first time. Beginners might come out ahead in some cases because the novice is less stressed out about winning.

What are superstitious ideas? ›

A superstition is any belief or practice considered by non-practitioners to be irrational or supernatural, attributed to fate or magic, perceived supernatural influence, or fear of that which is unknown.

What are the two types of superstition? ›

Negative superstitions involve behaviors or omens that are associated with negative (unlucky or harmful) consequences; whereas positive superstitions are associated with the desire to bring luck or preferable consequences (Fluke et al., 2014; Wiseman & Watt, 2004).

What is negative superstition? ›

This item can be classified as a “negative” superstitious belief; that is, it reflects the notion that certain behaviors or omens are magically associated with bad luck and have potentially harmful consequences(Wiseman & Watt, 2004).

What is the unluckiest day ever? ›

Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day in Western superstition.

Why is 4 superstitious? ›

But the number four is considered unlucky because it sounds a lot like the word for “death,” and as a result Chinese buildings often lack a fourth floor (just as American buildings sometimes skip the 13th). Likewise, Chinese drivers avoid license plates ending in four.

What are some good omens? ›

Good Luck Symbols and Signs from Around the World
  • 1) Elephants.
  • 2) Horseshoes.
  • 3) Four Leaf Clovers.
  • 4) Keys.
  • 5) Shooting Stars.
Mar 17, 2020

What is an example of religious superstition? ›

Every religious system tends to accumulate superstitions as peripheral beliefs—a Christian, for example, may believe that in time of trouble he will be guided by the Bible if he opens it at random and reads the text that first strikes his eye.

Why throw salt over your shoulder? ›

Salt is believed to ward off evil spirits in Mahayana Buddhist tradition, and after a funeral, salt is thrown over the left shoulder to prevent evil spirits from entering the house.

What is the luckiest number in the world? ›

Perhaps part of the answer lies in a seminal paper published in 1956 by the psychologist George A Miller called “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two”. Miller claims that it is more than just coincidence that the number 7 seems to be all around us.

Why is 7 unlucky? ›

Seven can also be considered an unlucky number since the 7th month (July) is a "ghost month". It also sounds like "to deceive" (欺, pinyin: qī) in Mandarin.

What is a bad luck person called? ›

luckless, unfortunate, hapless or ill-fated.

What is the superstition that bad luck comes in threes? ›

The superstition goes that if three soldiers lit their cigarettes from the same match, one of the three would be killed or that the man who was third on the match would be shot. Since then, it has been considered bad luck for three people to share a light from the same match.

What is the rule of three superstition? ›

#3: The Rule of 3

Outside of the theater world, the number three typically denotes good fortune. Those on the other side of the curtain believe that having three lit candles onstage brings bad luck to the performers.

Why do you knock on wood for good luck? ›

One common explanation traces the phenomenon to ancient pagan cultures such as the Celts, who believed that spirits and gods resided in trees. 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.

What food gives you luck? ›

Today we'll take a look at popular food items revered for bringing good fortune to those who consume them.
  • Pork. Succulent, rich, and fatty, pork symbolizes wealth and prosperity. ...
  • Fish. Scales represent coins, and so fish is deemed a culinary item of good fortune. ...
  • Beans. ...
  • Greens. ...
  • Corn bread. ...
  • Grapes. ...
  • Pomegranate. ...
  • Noodles.

What are the signs of a lucky person? ›

He says that lucky people actually generate their own good fortune by thinking and behaving in four distinct ways:
  • They are more open to noticing chance opportunities and seizing upon them. ...
  • They tend to be optimistic. ...
  • They are intuitive. ...
  • They are resilient.
Sep 16, 2019

What is the magic number to attract money? ›

Money number 6 in numerology

Considered to be the money attracting number, people falling under this will have the most luck when it comes to monetary wealth.

What is random luck? ›

Rosenthal describes random luck as events that are outside of our control or knowledge — you can't predict it, but you can notice it in hindsight.

What are the four kinds of luck? ›

The Four Kinds of Luck
  • Chance I: Blind luck.
  • Chance II: Motion.
  • Chance III: Recognizing good fortune.
  • Chance IV: Directed motion.

How do you activate luck? ›

20 Ways to Attract Good Luck
  1. Fail more. "Sometimes failure can be a wonderful stroke of luck. ...
  2. Examine the choices you make. ...
  3. Prioritize speed over greed. ...
  4. Expect good things to happen. ...
  5. Do more good and more good will come your way. ...
  6. Make a plan. ...
  7. Be generous. ...
  8. Consider increasing luck as a two-step process.
Jan 30, 2017

What is the superstition about hanging clothes at night? ›

Hang Your Clothes Outside To Dry

A wandering ghost may “try on” your clothes at night. Thus, it is best to avoid hanging them out late at night. These ghosts may even enter your house after trying on your clothes!

What is the superstition about spilling sugar? ›

John: In Russia, if you spill some sugar by accident, it means love will come to you. Karina: Sugar is sometimes thought to be opposite of salt. John: This superstition probably came about because sugar is sweet, so people associate it with good things.

Is superstition a form of anxiety? ›

Phobic (fearful) superstitions can also interfere with our lives, and cause a lot of anxiety, says Vyse. For example, people who are afraid of Friday the 13th might change travel arrangements or skip an appointment because of unnecessary anxiety.

What is superstition in psychology? ›

1. an irrational belief in the significance or magical efficacy of certain objects or events (e.g., omens, lucky charms) or a custom or act based on such belief. 2. any unscientific belief accepted without question.

Is superstition a natural thing? ›

First thing to know is there is nothing wrong with you – superstitions are a natural part of how we think about the world around us, Graef says.

What brings bad luck in life? ›

14 Things That Could Unknowingly Be Causing You Bad Luck Every Day
  • Getting into your bed on the wrong side. ...
  • Seeing the bride before the wedding ceremony. ...
  • Sleeping on a table. ...
  • Peeing in the road. ...
  • Not wearing earrings if you're on a boat. ...
  • Walking under a ladder. ...
  • Not eating an apple every day.
Jan 27, 2017

What are the unlucky numbers around the world? ›

What are the unluckiest numbers? According to global superstitions, the unluckiest numbers are 12, 17, 13 and 666. The Japanese culture also believes some ages to be unlucky including 25, 42 and 60.

What are superstitions and taboos? ›

Superstitions are repeated patterns of behavior that follow no logic or reason. Taboos are behaviors that are strongly frowned upon by a culture. A given person's behaviors can be understood if their combined beliefs, rituals, superstitions, and taboos are known.

Which is the unlucky month in the world? ›

According to folklore as well as ancient Roman tradition, the title of unluckiest month to get married goes to May. While July weddings promise some troubles in the future, May weddings are sure to end in regret! “Marry in the month of May, you will surely rue the day.”

What is the unluckiest place on earth? ›

Colobraro, an ancient hilltop town in Italy's southern region of Basilicata, is reputed to be the nation's unluckiest village.

Why is Tuesday an unlucky day? ›

The word for Tuesday, martes, comes from the planet Mars, named after the Roman God of War. So, for many Spaniards, Tuesday is associated with war, death, destruction, blood and violence. In addition to this, historically, Tuesday can be considered as an unlucky day.

What numbers represent evil? ›

sum to 666 is known as an evil number (Pegg and Lomont 2004). However, the term "evil" is also used to denote nonnegative integers that have an even number of 1s in their binary expansions, the first few of which are 0, 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 15, 17, 18, 20, ...

What is the cursed number in Japan? ›

Traditionally, 4 is unlucky because it is sometimes pronounced shi, which is the word for death. Sometimes levels or rooms with 4 don't exist in hospitals or hotels.

Is 7 a superstition? ›

It is often considered lucky in Western culture and is often seen as highly symbolic. Unlike Western culture, in Vietnamese culture, the number seven is sometimes considered unlucky. In English, it is the first natural number whose pronunciation contains more than one syllable.

What are common bad luck omens? ›

Here, then, are 13 of the most common superstitions.
  1. Friday the 13th.
  2. No umbrellas inside. ...
  3. Cross your fingers. ...
  4. Make a wish on a wishbone. ...
  5. Knock on wood. ...
  6. 666. ...
  7. Careful with that mirror. ...
  8. Bad luck comes in threes. ...
Jan 13, 2012

Is it lucky to see a snake? ›

- Seeing a snake is considered good luck. - Seeing a partridge is considered bad luck.

What is God omen? ›

An omen (also called portent) is a phenomenon that is believed to foretell the future, often signifying the advent of change. It was commonly believed in ancient times, and still believed by some today, that omens bring divine messages from the gods.

What are US superstitions? ›

A superstition is any belief or practice considered by non-practitioners to be irrational or supernatural, attributed to fate or magic, perceived supernatural influence, or fear of that which is unknown.

What are superstitions easy? ›

: a belief or way of behaving that is based on fear of the unknown and faith in magic or luck : a belief that certain events or things will bring good or bad luck. [count] It is a common superstition that a black cat crossing your path is bad luck.

What are superstitious thoughts? ›

Superstitions are long-held beliefs that appear to be rooted in coincidence or cultural tradition rather than logic or facts. Superstitions are often connected to pagan beliefs or religious practices that were widespread in the past.

What are the 10 superstitious beliefs in India? ›

Common examples of superstitious beliefs in India include:
  • a black cat crossing the road symbolizes bad luck.
  • a crow cawing indicates that guests are arriving.
  • drinking milk after eating fish causes skin diseases.
  • seeing a mongoose symbolizes to be very lucky.
  • itchy palms mean that money is coming your way.

What is a superstition ritual? ›

a specific pattern of behavior that is believed to control one's performance and its outcome when there is no rational reason for this belief. Failure to follow the ritual is believed to have negative effects on performance and outcome.

What animal brings money? ›

Boar. A Chinese astrology sign as well as a Feng Shui animal, a boar, also known as the pig, activates the wealth area of the house, which is usually in the southeast corner. This animal is often used to collect money and that is why money is usually saved in piggy banks.

What animal symbolizes luck? ›

Bulls are known for bringing luck to a variety of cultures. Greek, Celtic, Egyptian and East Indian people all see the animal as a powerful force. The bull is said to be a sign of positive things from good health to wealth. The Greeks looked upon the bull as a master of love and fertility.

Which dreams are lucky? ›

5 dream symbols believed to bring you good luck
  • Elephant: An elephant is considered an auspicious animal. ...
  • Cow: Cow is considered as a sacred animal. ...
  • Poverty: If you dream about poverty, never consider it as a bad omen. ...
  • Gemstones: Gemstones in dreams are considered a good omen.
Aug 4, 2020


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