Why Is Opening an Umbrella Inside Bad Luck?

By: Laurie L. Dove  | 
Three men sit at a table indoors, one of which is holding an open umbrella.
Members of an eccentric club celebrate Friday the 13th by going out to lunch and challenging popular superstitions.
Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

Key Takeaways

  • Opening an umbrella indoors is considered bad luck due to safety concerns with early umbrella designs in the Victorian era.
  • Ancient Egyptians believed it was disrespectful to the sun god to open umbrellas indoors, as umbrellas were originally used for sun protection.
  • Some believe that opening an umbrella indoors may upset the home's protective spirits and bring misfortune.

Although you've spent hours strolling through London's National Gallery, you're not ready for the inspiration to end. You head to the gift shop. As you spin the postcard display near the windows, you see it's raining. It's not really a surprise (it is London in January), but you're still taken aback. You left your umbrella at home.

Just then, you spy a canister of umbrellas, including some inspired by your favorite Monet painting, "Woman with a Parasol." You rush over and deploy one of the umbrellas. The shop goes quiet. You wonder, "Is opening an umbrella inside bad luck?" Superstition says it is. But why?


Opening Umbrellas Indoors Was Bad Luck in the Victorian Era

The modern superstition about opening an umbrella indoors most likely stems from the 19th century when umbrellas as we know them were invented by Samuel Fox. Although the design was similar to modern umbrellas, these early iterations were unwieldy and sometimes dangerous to handle. The frame of the umbrella relied on hard metal spokes that would spring open at the command of stiff spring triggers. So, this popular superstition may stem from warning people about the safety concerns of using an umbrella in the house.

There was no in-between when opening umbrellas: They were either tightly closed or sprung into action, often with such force that they could put out an eye. Anyone standing nearby was in danger of getting smacked by a rigidly spoked umbrella. And any frangible object like an heirloom vase? Easily toppled to the floor by deploying the spring mechanism inside. Because opening an umbrella indoors often resulted in negative consequences and harm, it's possible this superstition arose to encourage people to open their personal canopy outside.


In Ancient Times, People Didn't Want To Anger the Sun God

Some even believe the origins date back further than the Victorian era. Ancient Egyptians are said to have believed the act of opening umbrellas indoors was disrespectful to the sun god. That's because the umbrellas in ancient Egypt were designed to protect people from the sun, not the rain, and the sun's natural rays weren't inside.

That's not the only umbrella superstition with roots in ancient Egyptian civilization. For instance, it was considered bad luck for non-royals to use umbrellas. Egyptian nobility were protected from the sun with umbrellas made of papyrus and peacock feathers.


Because the umbrellas were designed to mimic the goddess who formed the sky, their shade was considered sacred. Anyone who allowed the shade of a royal umbrella to fall upon them had to be royalty. Otherwise, they were believed to be a bearer of bad luck.

Opening an Umbrella Indoors May Bring Bad Luck in Other Ways

Another school of thought contends that opening an umbrella indoors will upset a home's good spirits. These unseen guardians, who are otherwise protective, will cause misfortune to rain upon your family if an umbrella is opened in their presence. Others believe in a more narrow version of the superstition where a person shouldn't open certain types of umbrellas indoors, including black umbrellas.

So, whatever theory you subscribe to, many people share the common belief that it's best to leave the umbrella for the outdoors. If you want to throw caution to the wind and think the superstition is an irrational belief, then you may want to circle March 13 on your calendar. That's National Open an Umbrella Indoors Day, a holiday created by Thomas Edward Knibb to prove the superstition wrong.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do other cultures view umbrellas and luck?
Some cultures view umbrellas differently; for instance, in Chinese culture, gifting an umbrella is considered bad luck as it symbolizes separation.
Are there any modern takes on the umbrella superstition?
Some people today view the superstition as an interesting piece of folklore and even celebrate National Open an Umbrella Indoors Day to challenge the belief.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Dhar, Rittika. "The History of the Umbrella: When Was the Umbrella Invented." History Cooperative. (Jan. 26, 2023) https://historycooperative.org/when-was-the-umbrella-invented/
  • Fanning, Caroline. "Opening Umbrellas Inside: Why Is It Considered Bad Luck?" Reader's Digest. (Nov. 10, 2022) https://www.rd.com/article/opening-umbrellas-inside-why-is-it-considered-bad-luck/
  • Davis, Kathleen. "Origins of 13 Common Superstitions." Woman's Day. (Nov. 13, 2009) http://www.womansday.com/life/origins-of-13-common-superstitions-100353
  • Wonderopolis. "Is It Bad Luck to Open an Umbrella Indoors?" https://wonderopolis.org/wonder/Is-It-Bad-Luck-to-Open-an-Umbrella-Indoors
  • National Today, "National Open an Umbrella Indoors Day." https://nationaltoday.com/national-open-an-umbrella-indoors-day/