Why are People so Superstitious?

Do you remember the last time you used some lucky chant, hopped around, or did all sort of weird things so that your favorite team wins a match? Well, that's superstition for you. Read on to know why people believe in superstitions.
Everybody in this world, whether knowingly or unknowingly, does have a particular way of responding to situations. Superstitions are instinctive reactions that are completely devoid of reason or logic. These are a set of irrational beliefs one possesses, quite often to satisfy our own psyche to adjust with the prevailing circumstances. The remark "God Bless You" when you sneeze, the bad luck associated with black cats, not walking under a ladder, and so on are some of the most commonly held beliefs. The approach of Halloween, a festival full of superstitions, is also a period of great skepticism. The word 'superstition' has a Latin origin, which means standing in awe. People and cultures around the world assign different meaning or importance to events, actions, and things. They feel that one can affect the situation to reflect their own interest.

Superstitions and People

The origin of superstitions cannot be traced to a particular race, religion, or geographical area. In fact, every place has its own special set of theories as to why a particular ritual is followed. So, any belief or practice based on luck, prophecy, religious symbols, or spiritual phenomena that is thought to influence action or future events is called superstition. There seems to be no convincing theory as to why these superstitions exist. One idea is that people were scared into good behavior by stories of natural calamities, demons, and evil causing havoc in case of anti-social actions. This practice might have led people to assume and imbibe some notions which still hold good today. Ancient religions based many of their traditions on the support of the unexplained and undecipherable events faced by early societies.

For example, in Western folklore, people would throw salt over their left shoulder in case they spilled it, as it was thought to blind the demon. Bees were thought to be a gift from the heavens. The wax made by bees is again considered a holy thing. Therefore, many religions use wax candles at holy places. Ironically, some of the funniest and the most illogical superstitions are associated with a practice considered bad in many cultures, which is gambling. Superstitions demand that you should never gamble with your legs crossed, dogs shouldn't be allowed near the gambling table, a score of 'one' both times on a dice is a devil's sign, and so on.

One of the most popular and famous superstition is the unlucky Friday the 13th, because Jesus was crucified on a Friday and the Last Supper had a total of 13 people around the table. Another legend associated with this tradition goes that the Knights Templar were routed and killed by the opposing forces on Friday the 13th. Hence, for many people around the world, Friday the 13th of any month is a day to watch out for.

Indian and Chinese culture and some pockets of Europe are some of the places where traditional superstitions have a huge history. So much so that the local population encounters a psychological impact on their work, family, or daily routine because of these traditions. The age-old beliefs associated with such irrational reasoning have now taken shape of a habit. If these cultures are devoid of these beliefs, people feel insecure. Though no amount of explanation may convince a person with strong convictions, it is important not to let these practices hinder the natural life processes. For instance, it is considered bad for a pregnant woman to step out of the house on the day of a solar eclipse in India. Imagine, if she had a medical emergency, the superstition could have negative implications.

People are superstitious because it makes them feel good about themselves when they follow a certain behavioral pattern. It can be an asset if a superstition promotes a positive attitude and approach towards the prevailing circumstances. For instance, a person is psychologically inclined to step out of the house only after a prayer session, which is a healthy trend and fosters greater peace of mind. So, the next time your favorite baseball player looks towards the heavens on hitting a home run, you know it was not going to help unless he actually hit the shot. But as they say, "Anything goes, as long as your team wins"!