Very superstitious! 非常迷信!

更新時間 2012年 11月 8日, 星期四 - 格林尼治標準時間12:56

Vocabulary: superstitions 詞匯:迷信

Calendar, Friday the 13th, Eyewire

Do you think that number 13 will bring you bad luck?

Picture this scene: you are walking home and there is a black cat on the path in front of you. Does it make you feel scared stiff? Perhaps it might make you feel lucky?

Would you dare to put your shoes on the table? If so, then you may be dabbling with death. Putting a hat on the bed could cause evil spirits to slip into your clean sheets! And opening an umbrella indoors might bring untold punishments.

Most superstitions are linked to something negative, or the thought that something will bring bad luck. For example, the number thirteen is thought by many to be particularly unlucky, especially the date Friday 13th. In western numerology, twelve is a number of completeness – there are twelve months of the year, twelve signs of the zodiac. In contrast, thirteen is considered irregular, unusual and therefore unlucky.

Walking under a ladder is also something that many people believe will tempt fate. Some believe that this superstition has its roots in Christianity and think that walking under a ladder is disrespectful to God, so they don't take the risk. Others, perhaps, are more afraid that something will fall on their head from a great height!

One of the most terrifying and long-believed of all superstitions is that breaking a mirror will bring seven years of bad luck. In ancient Greek, Roman and Chinese cultures, many people held the belief that a mirror reflected a person's soul. If the mirror was broken, the soul would be harmed too; and the person would be frightened out of their wits.

Black cats have long been linked to luck. In continental Europe, the animals were thought to be shape-shifters, or witches' minions. If one crossed your path, it was sure to bring you ill fortune or even death. But, in the UK and Ireland, it's generally considered to be a sign of future prosperity if a black cat crosses your path.

Superstitions have been found in a wide range of cultures for thousands of years, but research suggests that that many of these beliefs can still be found in modern societies. Dr Kevin Foster, from Harvard University, believes it is an example of humans interpreting and reacting to threats. "Natural selection can readily favour making all kinds of associations," says Dr Foster, "including many incorrect ones."

So, if these threats are likely to be 'incorrect', why are people still so superstitious? Well, it seems many people would prefer to be better safe than sorry.


Which animal is closely associated with both good and bad luck?

Black cats

What phrase is used to mean 'very frightened'?

Scared stiff

Which superstition mentioned in the article has religious roots?

Walking under a ladder

Is the following statement true, false or not given? Spilling salt is considered to be extremely unlucky.

Not given.

What phrase from the article means 'bad luck'?

Ill fortune

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