Folklore & Superstition

Folklore and Superstition covers the topics of good luck, bad luck and uncommon wisdom. Discover more about topics like conspiracy theories, urban legends or voodoo.

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Why is it bad luck to light three cigarettes with one match?

Perhaps you've heard it's unlucky to light three cigarettes with one match. It might not seem unlucky — in fact, it seems downright practical. So why is it considered a bad omen?

Why is it good luck to shake a chimney sweep's hand?

Many people believe that a handshake from a chimney sweep brings good luck, even though the history of the chimney sweep is actually quite dark (or sooty, if you will). How did the chimney sweep become a good luck charm?

Why is it bad luck to mention a no-hitter during a baseball game?

Have you ever watched a baseball no-hitter in progress and wondered why nobody would talk about it? Blame superstition, and this is a big one — it holds that talking about a no-hitter is bad luck.

Why is it bad luck to spill salt?

If you spill some salt while you're cooking, you might fear a wave of oncoming bad luck. Why is toppling over some salt an omen of misfortune?

Why do people wish on eyelashes?

Much like wishing upon a star, tugging on a wishbone or other wish-related rituals, a loose eyelash could be a direct route to your deepest desire -- if you believe, that is.

Why do people toast before they drink?

Sláinte! Prost! Bottoms up! These are just a few of the toasts given worldwide with a glass of alcohol in hand. What brilliant mind came up with the tradition in the first place? And why?

Why do some cultures believe the number 4 is unlucky?

In Beijing, it's not possible to get a vehicle license plate that has the number 4 on it. Some cultures take their numbers phobia very seriously. What's the deal with 4?

Why do some cultures believe you shouldn’t sleep with your feet toward the door?

In many cultures, it's considered vital that your feet face away from the bedroom door as you sleep. And it's not because they're sweaty or stinky, or because you need to be prepared for a quick exit.

Why does Jewish law forbid gifts to an unborn child?

A baby shower means an infant is soon to arrive -- and, usually, that the parents-to-be are ready to welcome gifts from friends and family. In Jewish culture, prepping for baby's arrival is done a little differently.

Why are mermaids on ships' prows considered good luck?

Legend has it that mermaids bring bad luck to sailors, luring boats off course with their feminine wiles. So why is it considered good luck to have a mermaid figurehead on the prow of a ship?

Why were women on ships considered bad luck?

Women used to be banned from working on boats and ships because they caused bad luck. What's the reason behind this superstition — and why were topless women considered OK?

Why do people knock on wood for luck?

When you wish for continued good luck, you might find yourself rapping your knuckles on the nearest table or piece of wood. Why does knocking on wood have anything to do with luck?

Why is a buckeye seed in your pocket good luck?

Most Americans probably couldn't name their state tree off the top of their heads. But if you're from Ohio, we bet you could. Why is it considered good luck to have a buckeye nut in your pocket?

Why do people think it's bad luck not to blow out all the birthday candles in one breath?

You close your eyes over your birthday cake, make a wish and take a deep breath. Everything is riding on this solitary exhale. Why do we think it's bad luck not to blow out all the birthday candles in one breath?

Why do people avoid stepping on cracks?

Generations of pedestrians have avoided stepping on cracks to prevent their poor mothers' backs from being broken. Is there a reason for this practice, or is it just another baseless superstition?

Why are people afraid to open an umbrella indoors?

Everyone knows you're not supposed to open an umbrella indoors. Besides the fact that it doesn't rain inside, what's the reason behind this long-held belief?

Where did the idea of 'the willies' come from?

That uncomfortable, frightened, jittery feeling known as "the willies" is probably a familiar one. How did "the willies" get its name?

What happens to coins people throw into fountains to wish?

You've probably tossed dozens of coins into various fountains over the years. What happens to all that money?

Is it bad luck to give knives as a gift?

A knife is a timeless and useful gift. Before you give one, however, there's something you need to know: Gifting knives has long been considered bad luck.

What's the best way to find a four-leaf clover?

About one out of every 10,000 clovers in a patch has four leaves. How do you increase your odds of finding a lucky one in a sea of three-leaf clovers?

10 Things People Believe About the Illuminati

The price of oil, the weather, the United Nations and pop music are all controlled by one malevolent force – the Illuminati. Or so some people believe. How did an imaginary group get so big?

Why are people superstitious about double-yolked eggs?

Friday the 13th, a black cat crossing your path and a four-leafed clover are all common superstitions. But have you heard about double-yolked eggs? What do they mean to the world of the superstitious?

10 Businesses Supposedly Controlled by the Mafia

Just like workers in any field, Mafia members are changing with the times and running some old schemes in new ways. What businesses does the Mob have its hooks in, and how does it maintain control?

10 Plausible Sports Conspiracy Theories

It's tempting to think that the only way your favorite team (or athlete) could lose is because of some funny business from the other side. And sometimes you'd be right. Here are 10 sports conspiracy theories that could totally have happened.

10 Widely Believed U.S. Government Conspiracy Theories

Although the U.S. government has been found guilty of spying on its citizens or wasting tax money on dubious projects, does that mean it would intentionally fake the moon landing, conduct alien autopsies or put its citizens in FEMA camps?