Culture & Traditions

Cultures and Traditions takes a look at how people interact with each other. This might be through sub-cultures, relationships, fads or religion and spirituality.

Lots of us like to put a little faith in lucky charms. But while they're often taken for granted, many lucky charms are downright strange when you think about they really are.

The words "superstition" and "rationality" don't often make for very good bedfellows. But as these things go, every belief has to start somewhere, and sometimes a superstition's origins are shockingly sensible — albeit a little outdated.

Did the controversial practice of cult deprogramming do more harm than good? Find out.

You may call your cousin a Luddite because he still plays CDs, but the word didn't originally mean someone who's a technophobe. What other historical words do people use incorrectly?

Every year a bunch of guys in top hats pull a wriggling rodent out of a hole and allow him to predict the weather. And we all take this seriously. Is Phil the groundhog really accurate or is he secretly giggling at us?

Driving through Vermont's scenic countryside, you might see an anomaly in the architecture odd enough to make you do a double take. What's the story behind those strangely angled windows?

Four-leaf clovers, rabbit's feet, heads-up pennies — all lucky charms for many people. Another common lucky charm? The horseshoe.

It's an iconic holiday ritual: two kids fighting over a wishbone. Each struggles to crack the bone and get the bigger piece, ensuring good luck. What's behind this rather odd piece of folklore?

The "Bloody Mary" ritual, long popular on the sleepover circuit, supposedly causes a ghastly apparition to materialize in a darkened room. Where did this legend come from? Was there a real Bloody Mary?

Knocking on wood, crossing your fingers, fear of black cats ... are some superstitions common around the world, or are they specific to certain cultures?

One piece of American folklore usually passed around as fact is that drowned women always float face-up. Is this true? It might depend on who you ask.

Does your stomach flutter a bit when you cross paths with a black cat? Perhaps no other animal is so surrounded by myth and superstition than the common housecat.

With dozens and dozens of old wives' tales passed down through the generations, there's no shortage of ways to try to guess the sex of your baby. Here's a closer look at one of the more popular: the ring test.

Sailors are known for superstitions about good and bad luck while sailing, including one about the name of the ship itself.

We often see people toss salt over their left shoulders while cooking, but where did this tradition come from?

You may know the albatross as simply a bird, but it's also a symbol of bad luck. Find out why sailors believe that the death of an albatross spells doom.

Opals are unusual and mysterious gems, which may be why there are stories about their supposed luck dating back to ancient times.

Sailors are a superstitious lot, and that extends to words. Find out what not to say on your next voyage.

Baseball players have many superstitions to help them win, and some of them aren't exactly what you'd call hygienic — like spitting on their bats.

Every culture has its own unique superstitions, most of which probably seem a little odd to outsiders. In Korea, for example, there’s the fear of death by fan.

You might be tempted to pluck your gray hairs, but you shouldn't -- and not for the reason that you might think.

Leaving fresh fruit out overnight could definitely have some rotten consequences, but turning into a vampire isn't likely.

There are numerous superstitions that we unthinkingly adhere to, such as walking under a ladder. But why is it supposed to be so unlucky?

In the famous words of Bill Murray's character in the movie "What About Bob?", traveling is all about "baby steps." So if you're eager to start off on the right (or left?) foot, you may want to read up on these common travel superstitions.

Ever dialed up or down your accent depending on whom you're speaking with? Or switched from one language to another mid-sentence? Even if you haven't, you've seen it done. Why do people do that — and is it conscious?