(Did you ever knock on wood or cross your fingers to try to make sure something good will happen? Do you avoid walking through the path of a black cat, avoid going under ladders, and, horrors and horrors, breaking a mirror?. These are some of the superstitions that govern a person’s life. Actually superstition is a belief that a certain object or act has a meaning, even though, it is not reasonable to think so.)
Thursday night seems to be the most superstition day in our town in the Galilee: it is the day to fill in coupons to guess the winners of twelve football games in the coming Saturday. The piece of paper is lined with the names of the home teams and the opposition. The task of the gambler is to put beside each name either a 1 (win for the home team), 2 (a win for the opposition), or O ( tie game). The gathering crowd, mostly gentlemen of our town discuss and argue on the coming results before filling our their coupons, which is not so easy as each chap has to call out either an invocation or rely on a lucky charm to guide them in picking the winners, which seldom work, but the rites continue on…
My favorite talisman is a worn-out piece of flint, which I rubbed as I pass my coupon to the teller when I entered the small shop used by a football lottery. As I passed over the money and the coupon I also whispered a secret incantation that I hoped will help me in the winning and to receive the grand prize of over a Million Shequels, or a smaller sum for lesser cash prizes. From that moment till the games are played on Saturday I would be in a state on anticipation.
Most superstitions began as belief connected with religion and magic
The belief that one can influence supernatural powers, by prayer, sacrifice or invocation even goes back to prehistoric religion as seen in cave paintings. People in the ancient world believed that their gods sent omens, or signs in various forms, to tell them of the future happenings and event, and warn them of dangers if the signs are portent.
An eclipse, falling stars or a strange heavenly body, such as a comet, was believed to be an omen. One such omen was the Star of Bethlehem was a goodly one, which announced the birth of Christ. The Wise Men followed the star and brought gifts and proclaimed, “… where is he that is born King of the Jews? We have observed the rising of the star, and have come to pay him homage.” (Matt: 2-2,3)
People in ancient times thought that evil spirits could be kept away by magical charms
A charm might be an object, a magical diagram, or an incantation or a verse from a sacred book. In late antiquity there flourished among nations widespread literature of magic. Hundreds of incantation bowls have been found in the archaeological site of Babylonia; fragments of papyrus magic texts written in Greek have been found in Egyptian tombs. Among the relics of ancient world unearthed, Israelite magical amulets have been found on beaten metal with Aramaic inscriptions.
Over the years superstitious beliefs had become universal
Every culture has its irrational causal beliefs, but some cultures are exceeding superstitious to the extreme even in the present day. For example, the use of astrologers is still widespread in India, a country with many superstitions; i.e. a businessman will consult his astrologer for the auspicious date to travel and if the signs are portent he will postpone his flight for another day. The Chinese are particularly superstitious, especially about numbers; i.e. the word for four, shi, is similar in Cantonese with the word for death and all combinations of the number is avoided. But in the modern country of the USA, thirteen is considered an unlucky number to some people and is avoided at all costs. And strangely at it might seem, athletes worldwide are notoriously superstitious and they perform strange rituals before a game or hold or wear lucky charms.
Of course, gamblers are notorious superstitious as they depend a lot on Lady Luck’ in the play.
In some parts of this world this very day people, people still believe in the evil eye a belief that certainly can harm others by simply took at them with the third eye. In the USA and in countries of Europe a talisman for good luck could be a rabbit’s foot, a hanging horseshoe, a string of garlic, etc… Finding a four-leaf clover or getting an itch on the palm of your left hand is also a sign of coming good luck. But having salt spilled or to open an umbrella inside a home is though to be unlucky. If you believe that Friday the 13th is unlucky, it will be… As for yours truly Friday the 13th has always brought good luck!
A point to remember Most superstitions are considered harmless as long as they are not taken seriously. Yet, the belief in superstitions for some people is the lack of belief in themselves and they regard unlucky or lucky events is in the hands of fate rendered in signs.
Saturday night was upon us ending the anticipation of winning the grand prize in football game lottery. The scores of the games had been tabulated and the winners for the cash prizes had been listed. I looked my coupon and lo and behold I guessed rightly in ten games, which would give me a money prize of twenty-six shequels that was what I called luckily!
4.2 shequels 1 dollar.