Why people knock on wood: the history and meaning of this superstition

By SSPDaily editionJan 10, 2024 02:41 AMLife
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Why people knock on wood
Why people knock on wood. Source: Pexels.com

We've all heard of it, and maybe even caught ourselves doing it: the bizarre habit of knocking on wood. SSPDaily offers to delve into the origin and meaning of this age-old custom.

Ancient pagan beliefs

One of the theories that traces the roots of knocking on wood takes us back to ancient pagan beliefs. In those days, trees were believed to be inhabited by benevolent spirits or gods who could help people in difficult times. To get their protection or blessings, people would knock on tree trunks. This act was essentially a form of communication with these supernatural entities, a way to call on them for help in times of need.

Medieval Christian practices

Another possible origin of the custom can be found in medieval Europe, among Christian communities. It is said that Christians used to knock on wooden crosses or icons to remind themselves of the suffering and resurrection of Christ. This ritual was a means of asking for favor from God.

In addition, wood was believed to have protective properties, as it was blessed with holy water during the manufacture of religious objects. It was believed that such a consecrated tree would ward off evil spirits, who were said to be afraid of holy water.

Protection from the evil eye

Another explanation of knocking on wood is related to the desire to ward off misfortune, in particular, the envious gaze of others. According to this interpretation, when a person openly discusses their plans or desires, they risk attracting the attention of those who may wish them harm or unfavorable forces that may hinder their ambitions.

By knocking on wood, a person seems to retract his or her words, almost pretending that they do not mean what they said.

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