What Is The Origin Of The Knocking On Wood Superstition?


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Jennifer Bone Profile
Jennifer Bone answered
This superstition is one that seems to cause a lot of people to ‘knock on wood” or “touch wood” when they voice something good that they hope will happen in the future without really knowing why.  The general idea is to not “tempt fate”.

One possible origin of this superstition dates back to the Pagans who believed that trees were homes of the gods.  If someone wanted help or a favour they would tell their wish to a tree and then touch the bark.  This was the first “knock” and they would knock again to say thank you.  There are also some Christian references that indicate that knocking on wood has to do with the wood representing the cross or the rosary.

Another explanation could be British chasing games that date to the early 19th century where you would be safe from being ‘tagged’ if you touched wood.  “Tiggy-touch-wood” was a popular game and could account for the phrase “touch wood” being passed into every day language in the UK.

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