UK Parents – Very Superstitious?

Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

There’s no doubt that superstition and luck are two topics that completely and utterly intrigue us.

Whilst studies are often debating what makes a person lucky and whether science has anything to do with it, one certainty is that parents are by nature, incredibly superstitious. We only have to look back out our own childhoods to remember being scolded for putting new shoes on the table or trying to open up an umbrella inside the house – and don’t get me started on breaking mirrors.

Whilst there’s no definitive reason for Mums and Dads possessing this trait, a recent survey conducted by Gala Bingo, focusing on people’s lucky habits and charms from across the UK has led to some interesting conclusions. They may help us understand why parents are more prone to believing in fate and whether they pass on these beliefs to their children.

Based on the research, Leicester makes a perfect starting point, with over 66% in the city believing they’re lucky, a fairly large percentage to say the least. Although the Midlands city’s rich sporting history and heritage could go a long way to explaining why its population consider themselves connected with fortune, surprisingly, only one in ten of the population own some form of lucky charm.

This disparity could actually explain why so many parents believe in luck and superstition, as people often believe items such as a special jumper or their favourite pair of socks can help them in tense or emotional moments. If parents think a charm contributed to them having a healthy baby – arguably the greatest day of someone’s life – then those objects will forever be seen as lucky. When this life-changing experience becomes synonymous with something they wore or did, it’s no wonder parents instinctively become more receptive to chance. Charms are also often bought by couples who are trying to conceive a child, which means even the very first thoughts of parenthood can be linked to fate.

Superstition is another deep seated factor amongst Leicester’s inhabitants, with the two most common superstitions being that of walking under a ladder and touching wood. Of course, there are plenty of superstitions, as shown in this list from Live Science. Looking at the ‘scary list’, walking under the ladders features at the top with a staggering 69% of the population keen to avoid this scenario, whilst pavement cracks are right at the bottom with only 15% choosing to avoid them.

The fact that superstitions can be unique to countries, regions and even families plays into the idea that parents could be the origin of their children’s superstitions – with sayings such as throwing a pinch of salt over your left shoulder to blind the devil and stepping on three drains leading to bad luck recognised across generational gaps.

There’s no argument that kids develop as individuals by learning from their parents, so if their role models believe washing a car brings out the rain, their impressionable nature could mean they just accept that superstition as law.

It’s safe to say parents never deliberately set out to have their little ones believing in rabbit foots and in many ways, superstition has become so ingrained in our culture we don’t always notice its presence. Everything from crossing our fingers and saying “bless you” when someone sneezes to blowing out the candles on birthday cakes all have their roots in the strange world of superstition.

Besides, is it really a bad thing to have your children believing in luck? If anything, understanding something they can’t physically touch could open up their minds and may help them adjust to new cultures – many of which have beliefs and supersititions of their own. So while parents in the UK will continue telling their kids to salute magpies for years to come, they can do so knowing that introducing the next generation to these harmless fears is a natural part of parenthood in our society.