Six Common Gambling superstitions and their origins
In part 2 of this article in our series, covering six of the most common gambling superstitions that are well known but the origins of which are often less well acknowledged. We hope you enjoy reading and please do not hesitate to leave us comments about some of the most peculiar superstitions or gambling rituals that you may have come across yourselves.
4. Knocking on Wood
One of the indisputably well-known and internationally applied superstitions is the act of knocking on wood. It goes beyond the sphere of gambling and the casino and is applied by a large majority of the population to ward off bad luck. So where does this particular superstition stem from. It is quite literally rooted in roots. Tree roots to be specific.
As with many of the other rituals and superstitions that we review in this double article, its origins are based in a pagan belief that trees possess spirits. By touching a tree, it was believed that you acknowledged its divine power which would protect you from bad luck. As with many pagan rites, the Catholic Church adopted and adapted it by claiming that by knocking on wood you pay homage to Jesus Christ who died on a wooden cross.
5. Lucky Rabbit’s Foot
The infamously famous lucky rabbit foot. Everybody is aware of this superstition and a majority of you have probably owned or held one yourself at some point. With some 10 million of these items sold annually in the US alone, its popularity is unquestionable. Makes you stop to think how unlucky the one legged rabbits are though.
So what could possibly be the explanation for this barbaric practice you may ask?
It is generally believed that it was brought to the US from Africa where the rabbit was regarded by many tribes as being a symbol of fertility and fortune. Therefore, so the logic goes, by carrying a rabbit’s limb around with you it is meant to transmit these qualities to you quite simply. So the next time you lay your hands on a lucky rabbit’s foot or spot one dangling from a key-ring you will know it all boils down to an ancient African fertility belief.
6. Fear of the Number 13
The sixth and final superstition in our series is the universal fear of the number 13. However lucky the number 8 may be to Chinese gamblers, it is widely accepted that the number 13 is very much to be avoided. It is so ingrained in our global consciousness that it is a recognised medical condition that goes by the name Triskaidekaphobia. Although it is well documented, its origins are less clear. The oldest such documented case is that of an ancient law code called the Hammurabi that lists laws without including a number 13, passing directly from number 12 to number 14 with no apparent reason.
While the Babylonians profoundly disliked the number 13, certain early civilizations and religions such as Christians viewed the number 13 as lucky. Everything changed however on a fateful October 13th in the year of 1307. If you are wondering, yes it was a Friday! This is the day that the Knight Templar Order was arrested by King Philip of France and put to death as he feared their financial might.