Magpies, broken mirrors, cracks in the pavement: The very superstitious beliefs of modern-day Britain
Last updated at 4:28 PM on 15th September 2010
Seven years: Almost half of people polled in a survey on luck expect to receive bad luck if they break a mirror
Whether it’s chucking salt over our left shoulder, avoiding cracks in the pavement or not going under a ladder, superstitious beliefs continue to keep a strong hold over us.
More than 14million adults regularly carry out everyday tasks they believe will bring them luck – or ward off bad luck, research has found.
Four out of ten people avoid cracks in the pavement or dodge ladders while a third of wary adults said they believe putting up an umbrella in the house is unlucky.
The study also found four out of ten regularly touch wood and a similar number would never walk under a ladder.
One in three people regularly cross their fingers for luck, and almost half expect to receive seven years bad luck if they break a mirror. One in 20 adults won’t walk on cracks in the pavement.
Interestingly, six in ten said they knew superstitions were unlikely to come to anything, but carried them out anyway ‘just in case’.
And superstition isn’t limited just to everyday life: One in six polled said they rely on lucky rituals when betting on a horse, with one in twenty having bagged more than �1,000 after backing a winner.
A quarter will watch from a lucky chair, three in ten will only bet on a certain race and 28 per cent will choose a name of a horse which is funny.
The poll of 3,000 people was carried out by horse racing body Racing for Change, to mark the launch of its www.lovetheraces.com website.
TOP TEN SUPERSTITIONS:
1. Won’t walk under a ladder
2. Salute a lone magpie
3. Throw spilt salt over your left shoulder
4. Put money in a purse or wallet
5. Don’t step on cracks in the pavement
6. Avoid crossing people on the stairs
7. Won’t put an umbrella up in the house
8. Won’t walk across three drains
9. Won’t put shoes on the table
10. Say ‘pinch punch first day of the month’ on the first day of the month
Yesterday a spokesman said: ‘Most people have some superstitious tendencies and are plagued by a fear of what may happen if they don’t carry out their ritual.
‘Crossing fingers and making wishes when blowing out candles seem like every day habits now rather than superstitions but avoiding black cats and magpies seem quite old fashioned now.
‘We also found many people still fear crossing paths on the stairs, spilling salt or opening umbrellas in the house, ‘It may not make any difference at all but we can’t help ‘touching wood’ to avoid tempting fate, chucking salt over our left shoulder or saying ‘white rabbit’ on the first of the month.
‘It at least gives us the peace of mind, but superstitions determine the actions of millions of Brits on a daily basis.’
Other superstitious actions include wearing lucky socks or pants, avoiding walking across three drains and saying ‘pinch punch, first day of the month’.
Cameron Diaz wears a ‘lucky’ necklace given to her by a friend because she thinks it will ward off the effects of aging
The poll also revealed 32 per cent of Brits think it is lucky to find a four-leaf clover while 28 per cent think it is lucky to pick up a penny.
Other ‘lucky superstitions’ include wishing on a shooting star (16%) and saluting a lone magpie (21%).
One in six reckon they’re in luck if they meet a black cat.
Walking under a ladder and breaking a mirror emerged as the most believable superstitions along with a lone magpie threatening future happiness.
The spokesman for Racing for Change added: ‘Regular race goers have some very unique lucky rituals, like always betting on a horse whose name begins with a certain letter or only betting on a jockey whose star sign is Libra for example.
‘Race-goers are a particularly superstitious bunch who tend to carry good luck charms, queue at particular Tote windows or back horses or jockeys with certain names, numbers or colours.
‘But surprisingly, Friday the 13th seems to be no barrier to having a flutter. In fact, betting turnover tends to be higher on these days.’
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Always say “white rabbits”, on 1st of the month. When I was working, I would always remind my colleagues to do the same. My grannie used to say it was bad luck to cross on stairs, so I never do.
– sylvia ross, bradford, yorkshire, 15/9/2010 20:34
I NEVER walk under a ladder………if sombody is on it
As for the rest of these superstitions they are for the feeble minded who want or need something to blame when things go wrong……its the same for a “religion”…which is just another name for a more organised form of superstition.
– Charles, London, 15/9/2010 20:07
I think the salt superstition came about because salt was once a very valuable thing and to spill it was a horrible loss. The only thing that I believe though isn’t listed, but for your own well-being, here it is……..” No matter how bad things seem, never, ever say…..What else can go wrong?” If you ask ,you will find out. I try not to even think those words. : )
– Gwen, MD/USA, 15/9/2010 20:03
Superstition? What utter rot! A load of guff for the uneducated and naive. Thank heavens I’m a complete sceptic when it comes to this sort of thing.
Touch wood, we Aquarians aren’t taken in by this sort of thing.
– RW, Watford, Herts, 15/9/2010 19:41
We all know superstition is a myth. However if your day isn’t going so well, why would you risk walking under a ladder? I know some times it is impossible not to especially with scaffolding and ladders on floors above (at these times I cross my fingers and that cancels it) but when we do have a choice, many of us choose not to walk under it because we are irrationally afraid that we will bring bad luck to our side.
So come on, I dare anyone having a bad day to go ahead and walk under a ladder – go on, just walk. Believe me, you might also not believe in supersitition, but there is no way to say whether it does bring bad luck or not and this is the problem you see – it’s the not knowing. And I think anyone will choose good luck over bad in their lives.
– Mike, Wales, UK, 15/9/2010 19:19
I’m so glad that I’m not superstitious – touch wood…
– Justin McMahon, Uckfield, 15/9/2010 18:58
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