why do we touch wood for luck
Few people know why they do it, but still today when we mention something good that we would like to see happen in the future, many of us touch or knock on wood twice to keep from jinxing the expected good fortune. Where this tradition comes from is a long debated argument, however, below we have cited a few possible theories. One explanation states that the tradition derived from the Pagans who thought that trees were the homes of fairies, spirits, dryads and many other mystical creatures. PIn these instances, people might knock or touch wood to request good luck, or to distract spirits with evil intentions. When in need of a favour or some good luck, one politely mentioned this wish to a tree and then touched the bark, representing the first knock. The second knock was to say thank you. The knocking was also supposed to prevent evil spirits from hearing your speech and as such stop them from interfering. Alternatively, some traditions have it that by knocking upon wood, you would awaken and release the benevolent wood fairies that dwelt there. The idea that knocking or touching wood would ward off evil or bring you good luck, may have been adapted by Christians, as were many early pagan beliefs.
In a number of Christian communities, the belief is that by touching wood, you are touching the wood of the Cross and as such are seeking the protection of God. On this same token, there were people who believed that by carrying pieces of wood or the true cross, that this would bring you good luck. One of the most interesting elements of this particular superstition is that regardless of nationality, religion or geography, there seems to be a similar phrase in many cultures across the globe. For example, in the Arab world
Чхгу ЧфЮдШ (imsek el-khashab) is said and means to knock on wood. In Brazil, this expression exists: bater na madeira, which also has the exact same meaning. Again, in Czech the saying is klepat na d evo. In Finland the saying is koputtaa puuta and in Greek chtipa xilo. Despite being on opposite sides of Europe, the phrase is used for the same purpose and it also means exactly the same as the English equivalent. In the USA the expression used is knock on wood. P In Sweden, the phrase ta i tr (touch wood) is commonly used as a part of the phrase peppar peppar, ta i tr (pepper pepper, touch wood), the double pepper also being used to ward off a temptation of fate.
It's often shortened to just saying peppar peppar while knocking on wood. Both Trinidad and Tobago have a similar phrase for the same act. It seems that no matter where you are, it might always be better to touch wood for luck - just in case! To help keep luck on your side, have a look at our page to browse our catalogue of unique, hand-crafted, 100% Tasmanian wood accessories. Where does the phrase 'touch wood' come from? It derives from the pagan belief that malevolent spirits inhabited wood, and that if you expressed a hope for the future you should touch, or knock on, wood to prevent the spirits from hearing and presumably preventing your hopes from coming true. From touching the wood of the cross. "Touching wood" derives from pantheistic religions where trees, rivers etc were supposedly inhabited by spirits or deities. To touch a tree was to seek the spirit's blessing and/or ward off its wrath. There is no evidence to suggest that this phrase is anything other than the legacy of a children's game (such as tig) where 'touching wood', or being 'in den' or saying 'keys' prevented one from being caught.
There is no evidence of it having been used before the 19th century - which would suggest no earlier pagan or Christian origins. I've been informed it's actually "Touch wood and whistle" in full, i. e. touch a bit of wood, then a quick audible whistle. Still don't know where it's from though. The phrase originates from rural Hertfordshire where it is considered sexual innuendo. no explanation needed. Around here the reference is most certainly to grabbing the nearest penis, playfully. The term Touch Wood actually comes from the 18th Century Auction House/ Barns. If you placed a bid on live stock or an item you would hope that the auctioner would "touch wood" at your bid. When the auctioner touched wood you would have won that lot. Hence the saying " I hope I win "Touch Wood" If you did win the auctioneers hammer "gavel" which is made of wood would also fall and hit the block. Touch Wood is a winning phrase. It was used during the days of sail when fate was tempted to conjure up a wind when becalmed or such.
When ever I have heard the phrase or used the phrase myself it has been order to not tempt fate. "I hope the plane doesn't crash" "Touch wood! " and it's been explained to me in the local pub to mean "Touch wood and an acorn won't fall" I don't know much more than that! The phrase dates back to Chaucer's time and beyond when "summoners and pardoners" sold relics which were highly questionably parts of the True Cross (or the little toe of St James). The relic (in this case, the piece of wood supposedly part of the Cross) was carried in one's pocket and at the hearing of plague, death or other misfortune would be touched for protection and safety because of the belief that the Lord Jesus had defeated the powers of darkness by his death on the Cross. It comes from the lumberjacks in wooded areas who would "hug" a tree for a safe felling of the tree. Explaining the phrase "touch wood" (the clever woman on channel4's countdown explained this on an episode once. ) Perhaps a term used by coal miners? They would knock on each wooden roof support, as they passed it, to test that it was not rotten.
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