Saturday, August 27, 2011

old superstitions die hard…


"fingers crossed"…

it rolls off everyone’s tongue so easily… i grew up with the "fingers crossed" saying when hoping for something to turn out well, to have a positive outcome… but ever wondered where it came from? i hadn’t thought about it significantly before - but then i went to use it earlier… all of a sudden i was intrigued by 'whose' superstition it was based on and had to check it out…


tt’s not so easy to discover the origin though – so here’s a few of the ‘origins’ I came across…


purely christian...

"The theory of a Christian origin of crossing your fingers is based on early periods in the religion's history. During these early times, Christianity was an outlawed religion and the disciples of Christ usually formed a secret society. To protect the identity of the sect's followers, secret hand signs were developed so the members could recognize each other." http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-origin-of-crossing-your-fingers-for-luck.htm


majorly christian...

“Crossing fingers - Generally this means "wishing for good luck or fortune". Another interpretation could be seen as "here's hoping". The gesture probably has pagan / Christian origins where the gesture was believed to ward off evil. As such, folklore believes that crossing the fingers when telling a lie somehow offsets the evil of the lie... Some historians believe that crossing your fingers is a hidden or secret way of making the Christian sign of the cross - a sure-fire way of defeating demons. As a gesture it has both positive and negative symbolism. Luck or lies.” http://www.aquiziam.com/gestures.html

"The custom of crossing your fingers for good luck is fairly common. Superstition states that the act of crossing one's index and middle fingers brings good luck and wards off evil spirits or witches." http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-origin-of-crossing-your-fingers-for-luck.htm

“Crossing one's fingers is a quick and easy way of making the sign of the cross to shield oneself from diabolic powers. It is also easy to keep them crossed, thus ensuring lasting protection from the devil's tricks.” http://users.tinyonline.co.uk/gswithenbank/sayingsf.htm

           
purely pagan… 

“Another theory suggests that the sign pre-dates Christianity, when it was believed that benign spirits dwelt at the intersecting point of the cross, as in the Solar Cross (also known as Pagan Cross, Sun Cross, Wheel Cross, Odin's Cross or Woden's Cross). In Europe, the sign was made by two people; the first to make the wish and the second to support it. Linking their fingers firmly would squeeze and energize the spirits into beneficial action.

The popular gesture grew out of the pagan belief that a cross was a symbol of perfect unity; and that its point of intersection marked the dwelling place of beneficent spirits. A wish made on a cross was supposed to be anchored steadfastly at the cross's intersection until that desire was realized. The superstition was popular among many early European cultures.” http://www.scribd.com/doc/44602448/Charles-Panati-Extraordinary-Origins-of-Everyday-Things


to add to that… 


“To ensure the wish stayed in place and on the wisher’s mind, it was often tied to the finger with string, a practice that eventually evolved into a memory aid.” http://www.bigsiteofamazingfacts.com/why-do-we-cross-our-fingers-when-wishing-for-luck-and-where-did-the-practice-come-from


and now… 

“… As time passed, the rigors of the custom eased and a person could wish without the assistance of an associate. It sufficed merely to cross the index and the middle fingers…

Over time the ancient custom of the "crossed fingers" of friends degenerated to a wisher crossing his own fingers and finally to today's expression "I'll keep my fingers crossed," with the well wisher never actually doing so, and no one expecting him or her to.  What was once deliberate and symbolic has become reflexive and insignificant—though not obsolete.” http://www.unicornlady.net/superstitions/superstitions.html


hmmm, this one gesture can identify me to likeminded people, ward off evil, allow me to lie without consequence and bring me a whole lotta good luck - wow - what duality - it spans both good and bad... 

hearing that phrase is going to conjure up a whole different image in future!!! don't you just love the etymology of words and phrases - the power and politics of language...

4 comments:

Leann said...

I love looking up the meanings of old sayings and superstitions. My favorite was explaing to my prom date why my Yia-Yia spit on me everytime she told me I looked pretty! Silly boy had never heard of the evil eye! I don't think we dated long after that!

Proud Womon said...

so your yia-yia's gesture worked! it warded off 'evil intent'! i wonder if that evolved into parents using saliva to clean kids faces (something many of us hated or were at least embarrassed by as we were growing up!)

Leila said...

When i first read that the origins were Christian i was like, of course it's Christian, then i as a continued to read and understood that it came from a Pagan tradition OF COURSE it's Pagan...lol this all makes so much sense thank you for sharing :)

Proud Womon said...

thanks for visiting and reading leila...