A list of superstitious practices, events and objects

Here’s a list of different things  people associate with being superstitious. Did you watch our video on Superstitions? This is also a list of things you saw in our Stevie Wonder video.

Situations where people often get superstitious

When gambling
When they see a fountain. (People often throw a coin in and make a wish.)
At weddings (What colour do brides wear? Do they have ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue?’ Do they throw the bouquet to find out who will get married next?)


Black cats – If a black cat crosses your path, does it bring good or bad luck? The answer seems to vary.
Spiders – Finding a spider on your clothes is sometimes said to be lucky and killing a spider is often frowned upon. ‘If you wish to live and thrive, let a spider run alive.’
Snakes – As well as being associated with voodoo, there are lots of superstitions surrounding snakes. For example, hanging a snake from the rafters is supposed to protect a house from fire.
Lady birds (AmE: Lady bugs) If a lady bird lands on you, some say you shouldn’t brush it off. Instead you should count the spots to see how many years of good luck you’re going to get.


We get a fleeting glance of chrysanthemums in the video which seem to have a lot of superstitions attached in different cultures. But other flowers do too. Are there flowers you’re not supposed to bring into the house? Do you have to present an odd number, unwrapped, when you give flowers as a gift?


Speaking of gifts, it’s unlucky to give knives in some cultures as it’s supposed to foretell the severing of the relationship. Are there other things you should and shouldn’t give as gifts?

Ladders, mirrors and candles

Walking under a ladder is supposed to be unlucky
As Stevie Wonder tells us, breaking a mirror is supposed to bring seven years of bad luck.
Candles have a variety of superstitions surrounding them. For example, if a candle suddenly goes out on its own it can be an omen of death in the family. On the other hand, some say lighting a new white candle in a new house is supposed to bring good luck.

Lucky objects

Some lucky objects in the video include:
a horse shoe (Which way up should it be? Customs seem to vary)
a four leaf clover (or maybe it’s an Irish shamrock – that’s supposed to be lucky too)
a rooster of Barcelos – a lucky symbol in Portugal
a daruma doll – lucky in Japan (we also see a Japanese symbol for luck)
the Chinese character for luck and also a Chinese fortune cookie, which contains lucky numbers.


13 is often associated with bad luck, as is 4 in some cultures. Meanwhile 7 is sometimes associated with good luck and 666 with the devil.

Natural events

A new moon – The story goes that if you turn a coin over in your pocket when there’s a new moon, your money will grow
A rainbow – Supposedly there’s a pot of gold buried at the end of every rainbow.

Superstitious Practices

Crossing your fingers
Throwing salt over your shoulder if you spill it.
Voodoo, fortune telling (tarot cards and a crystal ball), psychics, water dowsing (divining rod) and astrology.
Click here to see our superstitions lesson if you missed it.

English teachers click here to find our lesson notes.