Monday, October 25, 2010

Superstitious, Anyone?

Superstitions. What are they and where to do they come from? According to Wikipedia, "superstition is a credulous belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge." Sometimes superstitions are referred to as folk tales, old wives tales, or urban legends. I'm not sure anyone can pinpoint with accuracy where, when, or why these handed-down warnings originated but some have been around since ancient times and many revolve around Halloween. 

Did you know that the tradition of pumpkin carving on Halloween came from the old belief that placing a burning candle inside a jack-o-lantern kept evil spirits and demons away? Have you ever heard that gazing into a candle on Halloween night will show you the future? And everyone should remember that if you hear footsteps coming up behind you on Halloween night, do not turn around because it could be DEATH following and looking DEATH in the eye hastens your own demise. Oooh, creepy.

So, why is Halloween associated with the dark and sinister more than any other time of year?   Some people believe that it is rooted in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) which celebrated the end of summer--the time of light, and the beginning of winter--the dark time. The Celts believed that the veil to the Otherworld weakened on Samhain. This allowed spirirts, good and bad, to pass into their world. Friendly spirits of departed friends and family were welcomed into their homes, while the unwanted and capricious spirits were kept at bay with costumes and painted masks. Over the centuries, various customs and  religious rituals merged to become the modern concept of Halloween: costume parties, trick-or-treating, apple bobbing, and scary movies. But not many truly believe in the dead walking the streets except, maybe, for the zombie and vampire enthusiasts among us.

And yet despite our modern technologies, scientific advances, and a more "logical" world perspective we still hold on to old superstitions.

I'm an educated woman with a whole of common sense and sass, but I still "knock on wood" whenever I say something and don't want to jinx my luck. I also throw salt over my shoulder if I spill it. Silly little actions, I know, but I can't help myself. Because in the back of my jammed-packed brain there is a sliver of the "what if". What if I don't do that and something horrible happens? Maybe it's something left over from the primordial evolution of cro-magnon man to modern man. Who knows. But I know I'm not the only one who harbors a bit of those old superstitions.

Soooo.....time to play Plinky!  Leave a comment and tell me.....

What are you superstitious about?

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