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Monday, 12 January 2015

Superstitions: British and American Culture

A superstition is a belief which is not based on reason or fact but on old ideas about magic, luck, etc. There are many superstitions in Britain, but one of the most widely-held is that it is unlucky to walk under a ladder - even if it means stepping off the pavement into a busy street! If you must pass under a ladder you can avoid bad luck by crossing your fingers and keeping them crossed until you've seen a dog. Alternatively, you must lick your finger and make a cross on the toe of your shoe, and not look again at the shoe until the mark has dried. Another common superstition is that it is unlucky to open an umbrella in the house - it will either bring misfortune to the person that opened it or to the household. Anyone opening an umbrella in fine weather is unpopular, as it inevitably brings rain! The number 13 is said to be unlucky for some, and when the 13th day of the month falls on a Friday, anyone wishing to avoid an inauspicious event had better stay indoors.
Although most Americans and British people do not consider themselves to be superstitious, people do still mention a lot of superstitions. If someone spills salt, they sometimes pick up a small amount of it and throw it over their left shoulder to avoid bad luck.
When people talk about something good that they hope that will happen, they often say “knock on wood” or “touch wood” while touching a piece of wood to make sure that it does happen.
The car will be fixed on Monday, touch wood.
People also say “fingers crossed” and put their middle finger over their index finger when they hope that something will happen.

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