The Truth Behind 10 Common Superstitions

Very superstitious...

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Alan Bailey /

No matter how logical you like to think you are, superstition is just a part of being human.

Whether you're one of those people who throws salt over their shoulder, won't say Macbeth in a theatre, avoids standing on the cracks and would never, ever open an umbrella indoors, or whether you try your best to approach all situations with a cool, analytical mind, you will at least have heard of a few superstitions (and probably still own a pair of lucky pants).

Superstition isn't just limited to black cats and magpies, however, it stems into all kinds of areas, including astrology, witchcraft and religion (which, you might have noticed, is a pretty big deal even today). 

Are these magical good or bad luck charms, or is there something else going on? Whilst some remain convinced of luck, omens and fate, there are many scientists, researchers and historians who think there is a much more rational explanation for all of this salt-chucking, wood-knocking madness, and it's buried deep in the parts of our brains that are responsible for pattern spotting and even survival.

There have even been experiments over the years that demonstrate where the behaviour comes from, and some experts think that the origins of superstition might be in our very genes themselves.

10. Opening An Umbrella Indoors

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If you ever open an umbrella inside, you can guarantee that there will be at least one person to let out a little gasp. To be fair, the superstition that it is bad luck is so deeply ingrained in most of us, that an open umbrella indoors does look kind of wrong. Like smoking at the dinner table or a baby with pierced ears.

It is thought that the reason why it is considered unlucky to open an umbrella is not some sort of modern day, rain dance voodoo, but is actually down to those thoroughly practical Victorians.

Victorian umbrellas were a sturdy affair, with sharp, eye-pokey metal spikes on spring-loaded devices - a pretty dangerous device to deploy in an enclosed space.

Why it was given the status of "unlucky", rather than downright dangerous is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps because setting a Victorian death umbrella off in a lift would cause immediate strife, arguments and possibly injuries, none of which can be considered particularly lucky.

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