32 Supersition Origins

In which John Green explains the origins of 32 infamous superstitions.

The top ten supersitions debunked in this video, in my opinion, are as followed:

Friday the 13th

Though the origins are unclear, there’s evidence it originated from Jesus being crucified on a Friday, and that people just tend to prefer the number twelve. Twelve diciples, twelve zodiac signs, twelve months in a year, etc. Fear of Friday the 13th is called Friggatriskaidekaphobia.

Throwing salt over your left shoulder

This is meant to get salt in the Devil’s eye, who is supposedly always standing behind you and over your left shoulder. A tad creepy.

It’s unlucky if a black cat crosses your path?

This one trails back to the middle ages, when many accused witches had black cats, as well as the belief that witches could actually turn into black cats.

Wish upon a shooting star

In the first century, it was thought that shooting stars formed when the gods peered down onto the Earth.

Lucky Rabbit’s Foot

This one goes all the way back to 600 BCE, when in Western Europe the belief on animism (the belief that animals were the ancestors of humans) was popular. A rabbit’s foot was believed to improve fertility.

‘Break a leg’

This phrase is often preferred by most actors over ‘good luck.’ It’s more modern, originating in the United States in the 1920’s.

Breaking a mirror

The Romans popularized the idea that if you break a mirror, you can seven years of bad luck. Even before the Romans, a lot of cultures kept the idea that mirrors could capture a person’s soul, and breaking a mirror meant you broke your soul.

‘Bless You’

Always say ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes, because a sneeze can supposedly eject one’s soul from his or her body. And that is very bad.

Knock on wood

Because mentioning future good look is thought as tempting Fate, one would knock on wood. Knocking on wood helped because the good spirits were thought to live in trees, so it was meant to get their attention and ask them for help.

Crossing your fingers

Though an ancient practice in Europe, it was made popular by Christians because they associated it with the cross, and it eventually became a universal symbol for good luck.


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