The English (and the Scots, Welsh and Irish) are VERY superstitious! Many of these strange superstitions date back centuries and their origins are lost in time. Some of them are common all over Europe and some are even worldwide! But the British have a few of their own really weird and wonderful superstitions. For some reason, there seem to be more signs of bad luck than good luck – I wonder why?
Black cat: if you see a black cat crossing the road in front of you, this is very lucky (so try not to run it over if you are driving).
Horseshoes: these are very lucky and people hang them on their door or on the wall. But be careful! If you hang it upside down it is bad luck.
Touch wood: if we feel grateful for something or want everything to go well, we ‘touch wood’ to say thank you or to wish for success.
White heather: heather is a (usually) purple plant. The white variety is rare and lucky. Gypsies sell you white heather, but it is often bleached purple heather!
Falling leaves: it is very lucky to catch a falling leaf.
Clover: this is a small plant that usually grows in grass; it has three leaves, but if you find one with four leaves, that is the lucky ‘four-leaved clover’.
Ladders: do NOT walk under a ladder. Obviously you might get a paint pot on your head, but even just passing underneath is bad luck.
Breaking a mirror: if you break a mirror, you will get seven years bad luck, so try not to – seven years is a long time.
Shoes on the bed or table: putting your shoes on the bed or table is very unlucky (and can make a mess).
Number thirteen: 13 is a very unlucky number. Some streets have no number thirteen and some airlines will never have a flight number thirteen. Friday the thirteenth is particularly unlucky, so don’t do anything important on that day.
Salt: it is unlucky to spill salt, but if you do, you MUST throw a little over your left shoulder and make a wish.
Umbrella: never open an umbrella indoors (apart from bringing bad luck, you may poke someone’s eye out).
As you can imagine, there are lots of superstitions connected to weddings. Here are a few of them:
The bride and groom must NOT meet on the wedding day until they get to the altar in the church.
The bride should never wear her complete wedding clothes before the day.
For good luck, the bride should wear: “something borrowed, something blue, something old and something new”.
The husband should carry his wife over the threshold (the entrance) of the their new house.
Do you know any really bizarre superstitions from your country? If you do, tell us about them and if you know, explain where they came from.
That’s all for now!