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Superstitions in Britain

Click here to answer questions on British Superstitions

Good Luck

  1. Lucky to meet a black cat. Black Cats are featured on many good luck greetings cards and birthday cards in England.
  2. Lucky to touch wood .
  3. Lucky to find a clover plant with four leaves.
  4. A horseshoe over the door brings good luck. But the horse shoe needs to be the right way up. The luck runs out of the horse shoe if it is upside down.
  5. On the first day of the month it is lucky to say "white rabbits, white rabbits white rabbits," before uttering your first word of the day.
  6. Catch falling leaves in Autumn and you're have good luck. Every leaf means a lucky month next year.

Bad Luck

  1. Unlucky to walk underneath a ladder
  2. Seven years bad luck to break a mirror.
  3. Unlucky to see one magpie, lucky to see two, etc..
  4. Unlucky to spill salt. If you do, you must throw it over your shoulder to counteract the bad luck.
  5. Unlucky to open an umbrella in doors.
  6. The number thirteen is unlucky. Friday the thirteenth is a very unlucky day. Friday is considered to be an unlucky day because Jesus was crucified on a Friday.
  7. Unlucky to put new shoes on the table.
  8. Unlucky to pass someone on the stairs.

Food Superstitions

eggWhen finished eating a boiled egg, push the spoon through the bottom of the empty shell to let the devil out

In Yorkshire, housewives used to believe that bread would not rise if there was a corpse (dead body) in the vicinity, and to cut off both ends of the loaf would make the Devil fly over the house!

Animal Superstitions

Animals feature a lot in our superstitions as they do in superstitions around the world.

bearOne ancient British superstition holds that if a child rides on a bear's back it will be protected from whooping-cough. (Bears used to roam Britain but now they are not seen on our shores)

ravenIn some parts of the UK meeting two or three Ravens together is considered really bad. One very English superstition concerns the tame Ravens at the Tower of London. It is believed if they leave then the crown of England will be lost.

batIt is said to be badluck if you see bats flying and hear their cries. In the middle ages it was believed that witches were closely associated with bats.

SparrowIf a Sparrow enters a house it is an omen of death to one who lives there. In some areas it is believed that to avoid ill luck any Sparrow caught must be immediately killed otherwise the person who caught it will die.

white rabbitIn some areas black Rabbits are thought to host the souls of human beings. White Rabbits are said to be really witches and some believe that saying 'White Rabbit' on the first day of each month brings luck. A common lucky charm is a Rabbit's foot, but not for the Rabbit.

peacock featherIt is thought very unlucky to have the feathers of a Peacock within the home or handle anything made with them. This is possibly because of the eye shape present upon these feathers i.e. the Evil-Eye associated with wickedness.


British Proverbs and Sayings

Questions to think about for Students

1. Which British superstitions are similar to those in your country?

2. Which are different?

3. Do you know anything about the origins of some of the superstitions in your country?

4. Can you give the definition of "superstition"?

5. Do you believe that they can influence our lives and still live on in the age of science?

FROM: Svetlana Chernobayefl  

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British Life
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© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

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Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant. 
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.