You would think that in an age of scientific reasoning and information, the concept of superstition is one that should have passed into folklore. After all, many superstitions are not based on any particular facts or data, with the majority taken from history and the etchings of unknown chroniclers.
The reverse is true, however, as science is being used to underline some superstitions and associated behaviour. A recent study confirmed that impulsive gamblers are exceptionally superstitious, for example, and often use this as a motivation to place wagers and seek out returns.
While superstition may play a role in games of variable chance, it is also something that has fuelled horror narratives for generations. While some traditional horror superstitions have faded into folklore, others have thrived and remain as impactful today as they did during the Middle Ages.
The Curse of Friday 13th
There is an entire film franchise based on Friday 13th, which starred ice-hockey mask wearing serial killer Jason Voorhees as the scourge of American college students. Despite is questionable origins, this is a date that still intimidates regular citizens around the world and there was a collective intake of breath during the first Friday 13th of the year last week. This is a day where some surgeons refuse to operate under the pressure of irrational fear, while it is also a date where some remain indoors in order to avoid ill-fate. Either way, it represents a chilling and foreboding superstition that has not eroded with time.
The Spilling of salt
Believe it or not, salt has been the object of magic and superstition for centuries. Far more than just a condiment, its spiritual importance can be traced back to a time when salt was known solely as a preservative and often used as a key part of the mummification process. This affords it a connection to immortality, and one that has survived into contemporary cultures around the world. In modern terms, for example, it is still considered to be bad luck to spill your salt and many will attempt to counter this by tossing a pinch of salt over their left shoulder (to counter the demon waiting behind them).
Opening an Umbrella Indoors
The ordinary and innocuous umbrella is another symbol of superstition, both indoors and out. This dates back to the item’s status as a luxury product, which Persian royalty and members of aristocracy used as protection against the rays of the sun. Many subsequently believed that umbrellas harboured invasive spirits that emanated from the sun, which meant that opening them indoors unleashed demons and dark forces into their home. This is a superstition that remains true to this day, and while some of the meaning may have been lost the sense of dread remains the same.