Monday Morning Question: superstition

When I was about ten, I was helping my grandmother with laundry when I tossed a coat hanger onto the bed.

She exclaimed loudly and pulled the hanger off the bed. Why? “Because if you leave a coat hanger on the bed, it means someone is going to die.”

Now, I know this is ridiculous. People die all the time regardless of whether I leave a coat hanger on the bed. I would think someone would have noticed if the coat hanger was invented and suddenly there was a huge plague of death that overspread the Earth and millions of people died for the first time…ever. Death entered the world because of sin, not coat hangers.

And yet, I still won’t leave a hanger on the bed. This is a harmless superstition: there’s no good reason to leave one there anyhow, and I can see how someone might even get hurt if I did. But I’m compulsive about it because I don’t want to take the risk that someone will die because of my sloth.

We’ve all got something like that lurking in our heads, the superstition that we know is absurd but we still bow to. What’s yours? Where did it come from? And are you comfortable having your own personal ritual?


  1. whiskers

    Mine is if I talk about doing okay financially, I will immediately have something happen that takes away that security I feel. It happens every single time. So I really try not to say, “well, we’re doing fine, we can do xxxxx.” I just don’t give the thought voice.

  2. Ivy

    I’m a Friggatriskaideckaphobe and a triskaideckaphobe. I’m not looking forward to Friday.

  3. Capt Cardor

    I feel that every time I stop and consciously think that things are going well in my life, then suddenly things go wrong. Its very silly, but its something I live with.

    Conversely, if I stop and consciously think that things are going bad in my life, then they continue to go bad.

  4. Wendy

    If I share impending good news before it happens, it won’t happen. If I state intent, the intended job won’t get done.

  5. philangelus

    My Patient Husband and I always have the same reaction when we’re doing good financially: that you don’t have money without needing it for some terrible reason. It hasn’t happened that way in a while, but we still feel that way.

  6. AnotherFaceintheCrowd

    I get you on the stated intent one! I feel that it has a more mundane reason: once I say I’m going to do something, part of the tension to get it done is gone. Especially potent with writing projects.

    Yeah, I get terrified of runs of smooth sailing. Feel as if some disaster is just round the corner. Which, statistically, it is — as my driving instructor used to say when I’d stop at a clear junction, peering cautiously around to see if it was safe, if you wait long enough, something will come. It just feels as if doing well calls challenges into being.