Top superstitions in the UK – from touching wood to Friday the 13th

Millions of Brits have blamed a spell of bad luck on breaking a superstition such as opening an umbrella indoors, according to a poll.

Researchers found ‘the fear of the unknown’ keeps 45% saluting magpies, hoarding lucky pennies and being extra careful around mirrors.

One in 10 of the 2,000 people polled reckon they’ve been left unlucky by accidentally opening an umbrella inside.

And an eighth believe their luck has plummeted after cracking a mirror – leaving them open to misfortune for a whole seven years.

A quarter said they would never book a flight that leaves on Friday 13th for fear of negative repercussions.

The research was commissioned by fair online casino and bingo site PlayOJO, which has launched a new feature that reveals the most and least profitable games, based on real-time data.

Many are fearful of Friday the 13th, as well as walking under ladders or breaking a mirror

Peter Bennett from PlayOJO said: “We have all experienced good or bad luck over the course of our lives and many of us will probably feel a bit superstitious from time to time.

“A lot of common superstitions have become daily habits for people, as we have all grown up hearing someone close to us pass them down the generations.

“For many they seem to help give a sense of control or comfort in a world that often seems chaotic.”

The research also found seven in 10 have crossed paths with a black cat – with 11% believing it has led to misfortune.

Brits also believe superstitions can also help boost their chances of good luck, as well as warding off bad – when playing the lottery, 15% will always pick the same numbers to help their chances.

Many respondents even have lucky items they wear to certain occasions, including items of jewellery, money, stuffed toys and even certain pairs of underpants or socks.

1. Walking under a ladder is bad luck

2. Opening an umbrella indoors is bad luck

3. Crossing your fingers for good luck

4. Breaking a mirror gives seven years bad luck

5. Finding a penny is good luck

6. Saying “God bless you” when someone sneezes

7. Knocking on wood to reverse bad luck

8. Friday 13th is an unlucky day

9. Throwing spilled salt over your shoulder to avoid bad luck

10. Not putting new shoes on the table

11. Making a wish on a wishbone

12. Saluting when you see a magpie

13. Not telling someone your birthday wish or it won’t come true

14. Itchy palms meaning good fortune is on the horizon

15. A bird pooing on you is good luck

16. Eating cheese before bed gives you bad dreams

17. Crossing the path of a black cat is a bad omen

18. Walking over three drains

19. Owning a lucky rabbit’s foot

20. Stepping on cracks will break your mother’s back

Women appear to be more likely to be superstitious than men, as three fifths believe walking under a ladder is bad luck, compared to two in five men.

These common beliefs are spread easily, as over half of those surveyed by OnePoll learnt about superstitions from a parent (52%), while others also learnt from friends, grandparents or at school.

Although, 66% said they did not know their historical origins – for instance, the opening of an umbrella in Ancient Egypt was sacred and doing so indoors insulted the God of the Sun.

Knocking on wood, meanwhile, is an ancient Pagan tradition, as they believed spirits and gods lived in trees.

And for the Ancient Greeks and Romans, blessing a sneeze would stop a person’s soul escaping afterward.

Peter Bennett added: “Often, doing an action a certain way has yielded positive results, so the idea of repeating to get the same result makes sense to many of us.

“Especially when it comes to online gambling – players want to know what might help them have the most luck and success, so adding an extra element of control may give them more confidence in the decisions they are making, if they like to follow their superstitions.”

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