20 Superstitions People Can’t Help But Believe In

October 21, 2019

What is it about superstitions that we as humans can’t help but believe in? Some superstition behaviors originate from ancient times, and yet they’re ingrained into our subconscious even to this day. It’s something we don’t even realize we do until it’s been done.

Have you ever caught yourself knocking over a salt shaker and immediately needing to toss a sprinkling of salt over your shoulder? Or even talking about how you’ve never been pulled over while driving before, only to find the nearest wood surface to tap your knuckles on as soon as you’ve said it out loud?

We grew up hearing and seeing these superstitious habits as children and have held onto them even into adulthood. So why are we so superstitious? Psychology Today explained the reasoning behind our behaviors. Behaviors are developed through a cause and effect relationship. We’ve condition our superstitious thinking as a result of something good or bad that happened to us.

An example, die-hard sports fan often wear “lucky” articles of clothing. One game say you forget to wear a hat with their team logo on it. The team goes on to play one of their worst games of the season. You, as the fan are looking for a way to explain this and think it must have been the absence of your hat. Even though, the presence of your hat has nothing to do with the team’s performance.

As humans, we feel the need to have control over everything that happens in our lives, even for the moments when there is no clear explanation. Thus, superstitious thinking and beliefs takes over.

We rounded up some of the most common superstitions people can’t help but still believe.

1. A suspected “slow night” in a restaurant is a recipe for disaster.

“When you work in food service and it’s slow, so you decide to make yourself something to eat, as soon as you finish making it you will get a huge rush and won’t be able to eat until your sandwich/burrito/whatever is cold,” one Redditor commented.

Every restaurant worker understands this pain.

“It’s a curse. Or if you say or think “man we’re slow tonight,” there will be a rush,” another replied.

2. When it comes to your favorite sports team, you’ll do anything for a win.

One superstitious sports fan commented “For a while I believed that if I wore anything with my team’s badge on it while they play, they wouldn’t win.”

“A series of coincidences reinforced this belief… which is of course nonsense…”

Superstitious beliefs in relation to sporting events is one of the more common superstitions humans have.

Psychology Today explained why sports fans are the most superstitious bunch.

Sports games are unscripted, so the outcome is unpredictable – it’s also what makes them so exciting. But it’s the lack of control that fans have in the outcome, which prompts “superstitious thinking” (whatever it may be.)

3. Moms have a sixth sense for when you’re busy. And that’s when they call.

One Reddit commenter said, “My mother will only call when it is the absolute most inconvenient time possible. If you’re splitting the atom with your right hand, and curing cancer with your left, while looking for your car keys because you’re late for a meeting with the governor, and the cell phone at the bottom of your purse that you can’t find rings, it’s my mother.”

We all have that one annoying relative that never seems to get the hint that we’re busy.

One redditor suggested the perfect way of dealing with them. “And this is why the best answer to ‘why don’t I have grandkids yet?’ is ‘you keep calling us in the middle of trying.'”

4. You’re more likely to win if you’re new at something.

This is commonly known as “beginner’s luck.” This may be the case because a novice is less likely to be experiencing any pressure or stress about winning, which would affect their performance.

This idea may arise due to confirmation bias.

Psychology Today describes confirmation bias as happening when “we pick out those bits of data that make us feel good because they confirm our prejudices.”

Essentially you’re only choosing to believe what fits your worldview.

So, in the case of beginner’s luck, if you believe you’re going to win simply because you’re a beginner then your brain may choose to forget all the other times you lost, and only remember the times you won.

5. In what has to be the most “adult” superstition…

“Every sock that goes missing when I’m doing laundry turns into a spare Tupperware lid,” another Redditor commented.

The universe works in mysterious ways.

For us, it’s when missing hair ties turn into another bag of opened tortilla chips in the pantry.

6. If a black cat crosses your path, you’re screwed.

Black cats have been used in various folklore and superstitions for centuries now. You do still hear about them to this day, but much of the fear surrounding them is gone.

They were seen as both good and back luck.

This depended on where and when you lived. For example, 16th century Italy saw a black cat laying on the bed of a sick person as a sign they would die. While in Asia and the U.K. seeing a black cat is a sign of good luck.

North America is responsible for seeing the black cat as a bad omen.

It was only good luck if you saw a white cat. And because of this stigma, blacks cats are half as likely to be adopted over their other-colored counterparts.

7. If you play chicken with the weather and your car, you will always lose.

One superstitious redditor said “That when you wash your car, the heavens will get angry and pour rains on it.”

Here in Southern California, we don’t have to worry about the weekly threat of rain.

Instead we have dust and ash from the occasional wildfire. Oh, and birds. We have birds here.”I wish it was only rain. Usually it is bird sh*t,” another Redditor replied.

8. Expensive appliances are always listening. They can sense fear and wealth.

“Don’t talk about money in front of the appliances. They are listening… and one will break down as soon as it hears the word ‘bonus’,” someone commented.

“Similarly, never criticize your car or discuss buying a new car anywhere that your current car can hear you…”

“It will be sure to break in an expensive fashion,” another commenter added.

In this house, we do not speak of good fortune and the existence of savings accounts out loud.

The universe is listening and there’s currently a planet in retrograde, and it’s looking to come wreck your sh*t.

9. A full moon is the only answer to people going bonkers.

One cautious redditor commented, “Working in healthcare, the full moon brings the crazies and the babies.” This is one we’re all familiar with.

TV and movies love to play up this superstition, so it’s not surprising so many of us believe in this one.

It’s a superstition we’re an offender of as well. We’ll ask “is there a full moon today?” in conjunction to people sucking at driving and being harassed by numerous men on the street.

Sometimes we need something to blame for people driving us nuts.

Sorry, moon.

An actual astronomer weighed in on this phenomenon…

“So, this is how the full moon one works – the full moon is big and bright and up all night. As such, people will remember the crazy sh*t that goes on during the full moon. It’s not like you’re going to associate crazy sh*t with a day from new moon that you can barely see during the day,” they said.

10. Whenever your food is taking too long at a restaurant, just go to the bathroom.

One restaurant goer commented how every time they got up to use the restroom at a restaurant their food would always be there waiting.

Now, if you ask us, there doesn’t seem to be anything negative about this superstition.

You get to come back to food waiting for you. What’s so wrong with that?

11. Even if you’re not a theater person, you’ve still heard of the Macbeth curse.

“Thespian superstition says Macbeth is a cursed play. Saying it’s name inside the theatre will bring tragedy unless you immediately go outside, spin around three times, spit, and shout a curse word,” a redditor commented.

We’re very curious to know how they came up with this oddly specific solution to the curse.

According to one commenter who asked a knowledgeable actor about said curse reported “the answer he gave was that Macbeth was very popular and for a time it was many troupes’ backup play if all went wrong on the night.”

Essentially, it sounds like a scam to get more publicity for the play.

“Eventually, mentioning the name of the play was so associated with failure that it was seen as a jinx. If you mention it then the play you’re working on will fail and you’ll have to do Macbeth, i.e. self fulfilling prophecy,” they added. All-in-all, it’s one way to mess with the annoying theater kid in the friend group.

12. Customers can sense weakness and will flock to attack a poor, unsuspecting employee.

“Customers hunt in packs. You will have no customers, then 1, and boom there is a queue and a busy period,” commented one fearful retail employee.

And sometimes, managers just don’t understand there’s such a thing as the “church rush.”

Anyone who’s worked in retail or in the food industry knows this church or movie rush fear. And yet, managers can never see past the first hour of employees sitting around doing nothing without absolutely panicking.

“Sunday mornings are quiet because everyone’s in their morning church services. Service lets out, boom.”

Never trust a quiet morning. It will never end well. “Huge rush and she’s panicking because she sent three people home because of how dead quiet it was earlier,” someone replied.

13. Don’t acknowledge any good luck you have.

“Every time you marvel at your good luck, it will turn bad. It just will. Worse is if you say this out loud. You’re done for. Knocking on wood. I always, always do this!” one person said.

This is where the famous saying “knock on wood” often comes into play.

We’re a firm believer of the knocking on wood superstition. What’s the harm in taking a second to give your knuckles a little tap-tap on the nearest wooden surface? We’re not about to risk it!

A fellow wood-knocker added,

“Apparently knocking on wood comes from the belief that the tree spirits are in the wood but they can’t make ideas of their own, so when you say something out loud that they could use against you it starts to manifest but if you knock in the wood it makes the tree spirit forget.”

We’re all for keeping the tree spirits happy.

One redditor familiar with that belief shared another possible reason, “I’ve heard this but the more common one I know of, is how touch wood was adopted by the Christian community from the Pagan beliefs of touching wood.”

“It was believed that touching wood is akin to touching the Cross (since they’re made of wood),”

“And that would bring the knockee good luck.” So whichever you believe in, just be careful when speaking of your good luck out loud!

14. Bad things will happen on a specific date every year.

For one particular redditor, August 16th is an extremely unlucky date for them. “For several years in a row, a relative or a pet died on that date. Got in my only car accident to date on 8/16 (albeit a minor fender bender). I try not to have anything important scheduled on that date.”

At that point, that’s enough evidence that you should just stay home.

What would make that day even worse is if it was also that person’s birthday.

This kind of superstition has a similar origin to the full moon one.

If something has already happened on that specific day, your awareness is going to be heightened more so than if it was any regular day.

15. Specific numbers also hold bad omens.

Numbers like 666 and 13 are seen as very unlucky and can often make people feel uncomfortable when they come across them.

666 is the sign of the devil.

This originates all the way back to the Bible. In the Book of Revelation, “666” is referred to as the number of the “beast.” In other words, it’s interpreted as the mark of Satan or a sign it’s the end of the times.

An anthropologist weighed in on this.

According to anthropologist Philip Stevens from University of New York at Buffalo, the writer of the Book of Revelation was allegedly writing to persecute Christians in code.

The Bible was written in ancient Greek, so numbers were written as letters.

This video goes into greater detail explaining the possible meaning behind 666. But in Chapter 13 Book of Revelation, it reads “Let the one with understanding reckon the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666.”

The English word “reckon” derives from the Greek words “calculate” and “solve.”

In the video, Pete says the text is basically saying “I’m gonna give you a riddle, you need to calculate the number of the Beast.” At the time, there was much hatred for the Roman Empire.

People especially hated their leader Nero Caesar, who was considered to be evil.

So, this is likely how 666 goes its reputation for being a symbol of evil and the devil, and how it still holds relevance in modern society.

16. Don’t risk anything when love is on the line.

The same superstitious redditor also has a rule when it comes to dating. “If I begin dating someone new, I don’t enter their number into my phone. In the past, every time I’ve felt it was safe to save her number, she would unexpectedly break it off.”

“Now I’m engaged, and I still don’t have her number saved.”

“The added bonus? I had to memorize it, and now if I lose my phone or it dies, I’ll still be able to call her.” Now they have no excuse for not calling back.

17. Be careful when you’re winning.

One person advised “that getting cocky makes you lose. I always keep my mouth shut when competing.”

We can all attest that this one absolutely holds some truth to it.

Someone explained the reasoning behind it. “Being cocky might make you either showboat (dangerous) or overconfident and less cautious/focused (dangerous). It also might invigorate an opponent, as well (dangerous).”

18. “Death comes in three.”

“It seems to be the case in my life, anyway. If I’ve had two people in my life recently pass away I get anxious about who the third will be…”A redditor commented.

This is a common one we’ll often hear, too.

But most times it will have a less grim outlook and people will instead say “bad luck happens in threes.”

“Then I feel relieved if it’s a distant relative or vague acquaintance instead of someone closer,” they added.

Others replied in the thread saying similar instances have happened to them. This one’s a little too freaky, even for us.

19. Do you over pack or under pack for a trip?

One confused packer commented “If you pack a bit more than you think you’ll need for a trip, you won’t use half of it.”

If you pack a bit less, because “you never use it all,” you will have a need for more than you packed with you,” they added.

Anyone else pack nine pairs of underwear for a weekend trip like you’re planning to sh*t your pants three times each day?

20. Fighting over a bird bone will bring good luck.

Surely we’ve all gathered around the turkey at Thanksgiving as children and fought over who was going to break the wishbone, otherwise known as the furcula. It’s a modern tradition that actually dates back to 700 B.C.

Birds were considered to be divine creatures back then.

The Etruscans believed birds could predict the future, so after slaughtering a bird they would preserve the wishbone to increase their chances of having good luck.

Over time, the Romans eventually picked up on this ancient tradition.

However, during their time birds like chickens were scarce, so they resorted to cracking bones to pass around the good luck. Much later this got passed on to the British, who then eventually brought it all the way over to Plymouth Rock.

Turkeys were abundant in the new world, so the colonizers began using Turkey wishbones over chickens.

And thus we carry on this tradition to this day at every Thanksgiving. It’s a little fun fact you can share with your family at your next holiday. So get crackin’!

Do you believe some of these superstitions? Are there any others you know about?