Everyone knows about knocking on wood. If you say things are looking good, you knock on wood to make sure you don’t reverse your expectations by voicing them aloud. The explanation, as I’ve heard it, was that you were making noise so that the devil couldn’t hear what you just said and decide to spoil everything.
I knock on wood compulsively. It makes me uncomfortable to say, “Oh it won’t rain tomorrow,” if I fail to knock on wood afterwards. Part of me believes I must knock, or it will rain.
In a modern age of cause and effect, chaos theory, and science, such old superstitions seem a little bit silly. However, they persist, and even though I would say I don’t seriously believe that knocking on wood keeps away the bad karma, I nevertheless feel compelled to do so.
Even more interesting is the evidence that superstitions continue to evolve. Yes, new superstitions are being developed right under our noses!
You may not believe me, but I’m guessing you have heard of making a wish when you see the clock say 11:11. You can’t wait for the clock to hit the time and then make the wish (that’s just cheating), but if you glance at the clock and it happens to be 11:11, then you’re supposed to make a wish before it changes.
Consider that this superstition can only be as old as digital clocks. Why would anybody make a wish at 11:11 unless they saw it displayed on the digital screen? The analogue version of 11:11 looks like any other time of day.
This means that despite our growing scientific sophistication, and even as a direct result of our blossoming use of electronics and gadgets, we continue to develop new superstitions.
I should have concentrated in Folklore and Mythology.