A Superstition is the irrational belief that future events are influenced by specific behaviors, without having a causal relationship.
Examples of superstitions vary greatly from one country to another:
An example of a superstition that is commonly believed by the public is astrology.
A gambler may credit a winning streak in poker to a lucky rabbit's foot or to sitting in a certain chair, rather than to skill or to the law of averages.
In Afghanistan it is said that if you see a magpie sitting on a wall, a message will be coming for you.
In India it is considered bad luck if someone sneezes while you are leaving your house. The remedy is to come back into the house and wait for a few hours before leaving.
In Tampa, Florida it has long been believed alligator sightings cause athlete's foot.
In China people say that one should not sweep or dust on New Year's Day or good fortune will also be swept away.
In Italy there is the fear of the number 17 rather than the number 13. This originates from Ancient Rome, where 17 was written as XVII, which can be re-arranged as VIXI in the meaning of "I have lived", so "I'm dead".
An accidental cut on the right ring finger means one will be married in 4 days time.
Brides on their wedding day often do not see their groom until the ceremony, believing that to do so causes bad luck.
Some people turn back from a journey if a black cat crosses their path, although, some countries, such as Britain, believe it is lucky to see a black cat. An alleged cause for this would be that Emperor Napoleon saw a black cat just before a lost battle against the British. This would explain yellow cat being seen as a bad sign in Italy and Bermuda (and Continental Europe) and as a good one in Great Britain.
Many believe that if you can blow out all of the candles on your birthday cake with one breath while making a silent wish, your wish will come true. In addition, many people believe that if you cause the knife to touch the bottom of your birthday cake while making the first cut in the cake, your wish will not come true.
Tetraphobia is widespread in China, Japan, Korea, and Hawaii; the number's use is minimized or avoided where possible. This is because the word for 4, si, is homophonous with the word for death. Mobile numbers with 4 in them sell for less and some buildings even skip the level four, labeling it the 5th floor instead. However, there is another word for four in Japan that does not also mean death: yon. In Korea, number '4' is pronounced as 'sa(사 四)' and is homonymous with 'death (사 死)'. Some, but not all, Korean buildings have the fourth floor written as 'F' floor.
Triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13, is common among those of European descent.
Baseball superstitions are numerous.
Some believe that if you see a magpie, you must salute it with the words "Hello Mr. magpie, how's your wife and family?" or bad luck will follow, unless you see two magpies, which is good luck.
It is also a common belief that breaking a mirror will bring seven years of ill fortune.
Some believe that walking under a ladder will bring bad luck.
Opening an umbrella inside the house is purported to bring bad luck.
Entering a house left leg first is sometimes thought to bring bad luck.
In Western America it is supposed that if one holds one's breath from the start of a tunnel to the end of it, one may make a silent wish.
In some countries an owl is a bad omen; in others it is a good sign because owls make their sounds when a dangerous animal is near.
Some people believe that if you give someone a handbag as a gift, you must place a coin in the handbag, otherwise the handbag will bring the recipient bad luck.
Some people believe that it will bring bad luck if you give someone a knife as a gift, and to avoid the bad luck the recipient should exchange the knife for some money (even if it is just one coin), so that "technically" they "bought" the knife, rather than received it as a gift.
In theatre and drama it is considered bad luck to say "Good luck" on opening night. "Break a leg" is substituted.
When producing the play Macbeth, it is considered bad luck to say the title and main character's name. Whenever one needs to mention the play's title it is appropriate to refer to it as "The Scottish Play" instead.
In the Middle East (notably Egypt), some people believe that cutting the air with scissors brings about animosity.
In many parts of Europe, "Break a leg" is substituted with the regional colloquialism for excrement. This is a tradition that dates back to times when horses were the primary means of travel, either directly or by carriage. When a spectacle had been well reviewed or advertised, there would be many horses in front of the theatre, and thus copious amounts of horse excrement.
It is a common superstition that using a red lighter is bad luck.
Some believe that it is bad luck to advance your calendar before the month has arrived.
It is considered bad luck to cross over a person's body lying on the floor...if you have to, you should cross back over it.
The first person who enters your house on New Years Day should be a man for good luck.
A person who gives a knife as a wedding or anniversary gift is trying to split the couple up.
Superstition and magic
Superstitions differ from magic spells in that the former are generally passive if/then constructs while the latter contain formulae, recipes, petitions, prayers, and love songs for effecting future outcomes by means of symbolic, and perhaps non-causal activities.
People who otherwise accept scientific de-mystification of the supernal world and do not consider themselves to be occultists or practitioners of magic, still may consider that it is "better to be safe than be sorry" and observe or transmit some or many of the superstitions endemic to their cultures.