Maybe it’s because I secretly want to be Alyssa Milano’s character on Charmed but I’ve always been fascinated with Friday the 13th, spirits, and mostly superstitions. I will say that I’ve never actually contacted a ghost with my Ouija board but I have broken a few mirrors in my day. Even if you think all of this is lame I bet you have knocked on wood a few times when you accidentally jinxed yourself. But why do we do this and where did it come from? Well me and the rest of the weirdos are about to fill you in! Just like any old wives tale and superstition the origin is lost in time along with all my bobby pins and apparently my boyfriend. What we do know though is that three different religions used “knocking on wood” for different reasons, the first being Pagan.
According to the Pagan belief system gods and spirits lived inside trees, hence trees were idolized and worshiped. They would knock on trees to not only get a certain god’s attention but also to thank them for their gifts. They would also arm their doorways with wood to ward off evil spirits, stop bad luck, and chase off anyone who was trying to harm them. After that the Christians picked up on the trend, using wood as a safety precaution. Christians however made the superstition more about the cross and Jesus than the fairy gods who lived in the trees. When they touched wood it symbolized touching the cross and asking for God’s help, peace, and safety just as He did during the crucifixion. Lastly, Judaism picked up the practice. During the Spanish Inquisition the Jews hid inside wooden synagogues and certain knocks were needed for entry to know you came in peace. The sound of knocking on wood soon became a symbol for safety and survival.
No matter what your belief, it seems as though knocking on wood has always resinated with a higher power. With safety and spirit at the core it seems that knocking on wood in the past is pretty consistent with how we use knocking on wood today. Whether we are using it for karma, for some extra luck, or just because we are worried about drumming up some bad juju knocking on wood is one superstition that is here to stay, unlike those evil spirits who are (hopefully) keeping a safe distance.