The History of a Superstition

For this purpose, a qualitative research based on one to one topic guided interviews was conducted. This research also brings together and reviews previously conducted studies and already published data from books, articles, journals and electronic sites, related to superstition, youth and their beliefs, interest and involvement in superstition, and the relationship between superstitious beliefs and self-esteem, self-efficacy, locus of control and performance. This study also investigated the role of superstition in society, analysing the influence that different beliefs passed on from generation to generation have left in our community.

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When I was a child I remember visiting my paternal grandparents in Valletta, we used to go see them every Sunday after the 10am mass and stay there for lunch sometimes. Anthony which is now mine, a memory I treasure of my nanna and something I always keep with me in my purse. Nanna also wore a bracelet with all sorts of lucky charms including an eye, a horn, a horse shoe, a key, a clover, and some kind of fish among other objects. Nannu Nenu was a great cook and sometimes enjoyed a glass of wine and background music while preparing and cooking supper.

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I was always happy to help nannu out because he would never make any fuss if I had to drop or spill something, however, nanna was always concerned about the salt and the wine, in fact, if it was the case she would come running and tell me to quickly throw some of the salt over my shoulders, and if nannu would spill the wine he would have to dab some of it over his head. I never quite understood the meaning of this, but as I grew older I found myself repeating these kinds of rituals every time the occasion arose.

There were other habits nanna had or even rituals she would perform in certain circumstances, such as making the sign of the cross quickly followed by that of the horn when mentioning a particular neighbour of theirs. She also used to always choose the same numbers for lotto. My father was also a great influence on me.

I have vivid memories of him in the kitchen while experimenting with new flavours and sauces. He also enjoyed a glass or wine while cooking, and repeated the same rituals nannu did when spilling wine or salt. Since his food always tasted and smelled so good sometimes I used to go and try to have a little taste from the pot when nobody was watching. Usually I also would have a second serving and at times eat the food directly from the pot or pan. I also remember my father scolding me for putting new shoes which I would have just purchased and still in the shopping bag on the table, as they would bring bad luck.

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My sister and I were also never allowed to buy a gold fish or to have an aquarium, because he believed that keeping an aquarium at home would bring death to our family. Because superstition was part of my upbringing and very present especially during my adolescent phase, I have always been fascinated about its origin and drawn towards exploring and understanding the topic of superstition and other factors related to it more in depth. In the first chapter I gave a general overview of what the study is about, my position about the subject chosen and the interest it incites in me, outlining the purpose of this study.

As well as the preparation for the formation of the research questions, locating participants, conducting interviews and the analysis of the results, this dissertation required a considerable amount of time spent at the University library and Melitensia, scanning through various books, thesis, journals, articles and other relevant material, searching for the appropriate data and gathering the suitable information related to my research subject.

Chapter 2 of this dissertation starts with an introduction on superstition; its origins and foundations, as well as its effects and development through the years. An emphasis was made on Maltese superstitions, popular traditions and custom beliefs passed on from one generation to the other. The topics of religion and illusion of control and their relevance to superstition were also addressed in this chapter. Chapter 3 gives a detailed account of the methodology design of this study, the reasons for implementing a qualitative phenomenological approach, the nature of the sample, and the procedures undertaken to analyse the collected data.

Chapter 4 provides a detailed description of the findings of my research. This is where the major themes and related topics are explained further and examined, linking the results of this study to literature. Finally, the last chapter provides a conclusion outlining the major findings, the limitations of this study as well as its usefulness, followed by recommendations for future research.

Latin speakers made use of the word supersitio to refer to things that were greater than usual or beyond normality Steiner, However, further studies have suggested various additional approaches that characterise this concept. Superstitious beliefs, magical thinking and other paranormal activities have existed in a variety of cultures since the beginning of times Jahoda, , and can be divided into three types: religious, cultural, or personal. The word superstition is quite ambiguous and can only be used subjectively.

While for a Roman Catholic, the belief in reincarnation may be considered as superstitious, for an Atheist all religions are a form of superstition. They consider superstitious beliefs to be a gathering of cultural traditions developed in pre-scientific societies used to keep doubts and uncertainties about the future under control Brunvand, Superstitions were also generated to deal with misfortunate incidents, creating the power and possibility of controlling things and events in life that one was otherwise unable to explain, manage or control.

Superstitious rituals or beliefs are generally invoked either to keep away bad luck, or to bring about good luck, and even if a lot of superstitions have cultural and social connotations and are passed on from one generation to another, others comprise more peculiar beliefs or rituals.

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He points out the importance of temporal and spatial relativity and gives examples of how in ancient times it was common to believe in things such as fairies and witches, and therefore to attribute unexplainable matters to supernatural forces. Peterson possibly gives a more understandable view, as he explains different types of superstition which include:. Belief in unspecific bad consequences; like for example — spilling salt or opening an umbrella indoors. Belief in unspecific good consequences; like for example — catching falling leaves, or finding a horseshoe.

Belief in specific consequences; like for example — right-handed itch foretells money is coming in, itchy left palm means that money is going out. By some authors, superstitions have also been defined as attitudes depending on affective, cognitive, and behavioural aspects Saenko, The affective aspect involves different emotions related to superstitious matters such as fear, joy, anger, etc. The behavioural aspect would comprise the various rituals and other symbolic acts, such as spells or curses, carried out by people for protection against misfortune or to realise that what is wished for.

Additionally to this, each superstition has its particular object that is linked to a specific happening and its consequences, and a feeling that results from these consequences which is automatically associated to the particular object or act that are connected with that object. This contradiction arises for the reason that individual behaviours carried out in a particular context are influenced both by general attitudes as well as by an extensive series of moderating variables Ajzen, According to B.

In the same way, superstition is formed when people trust that a specific behaviour will bring about a specific result even if there is no actual link between the two Vyse, A further process by which people may become superstitious it that of the self-fulfilling prophecy. The thought and fear that bad things will happen add anxiety and apprehension, giving rise to confusion, uncertainties and panic, leading the individual to perform poorly and faultily.

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While some superstitions are widespread all over the globe and common to many countries such as, keeping fingers crossed or knocking on wood for good luck, or 7 years of bad luck for breaking a mirror , one can clearly observe that some superstitions are specific to particular cultures. In Ireland, as well as India, people believe that the devil lingers in houses that are no longer lived in and therefore break windowpanes for the devil to get out.

The fishermen of New Guinea also adhere to certain beliefs and engage into complex magical rituals for a guaranteed successful fishing trip Malinowski, , and Russian maidens put handmade green-leaf garlands into water to see whether they will live to get married; should the garland float, or die unmarried in a short time; should the garland sink The Theosophical Movement, Like in other countries superstition has a rather significant position in the Maltese society as it is portrayed in our culture strongly influenced by supernatural beliefs, rituals, symbols, stories and traditions still carried out by many to this day.

Although the pagan influences embodied in our culture and society Cassar, ; Zarb, research indubitably shows the strong relationship between superstition and religion depicting tendencies towards a superstitious religiosity in Maltese Catholics Darmanin, b. Hence, following is a more detailed and intense exploration of the relevance and association of these topics in relation to superstition, also outlining their impact and position within the Maltese culture.

In Malta, beliefs in superstition go back to the 14th and 16th centuries. It is probable that various Maltese proverbs, traditions, and superstitions were mostly introduced by the many different rulers that have governed this island. In those days, the Maltese put their faith in superstitions for many things. The blind belief or faith for supernatural elements or incidents is called superstitions. Though we are in the 21 st century, there are still many superstitions in India.

In some parts of India people still, believe that crossing of the road by a cat in front of our vehicles is inauspicious. Another major superstition in India is the belief in Witch. In India, many women are still killed or tortured considering them a Witch. These are nothing but social evils. Some anti-social groups take chance by spreading superstitions among the people. All these social evils should be removed from the society to make India a powerful and developed country. Superstitions in India are a serious problem. The half literate people believe superstitions easily.

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An educated man can identify the scientific reasons behind any supernatural explanations or incidents. But an illiterate easily can be a victim of superstitions. Thus increasing literacy rate is very much necessary to remove superstitions in India or Indian society. In ancient time there are many superstitions like Sati Dah, witchcraft etc. But later it has been removed. With the advancements in science and technology, India has developed a lot. But still, some people of backward societies be of the opinion that some supernatural powers are there exist.

That is nothing but their ignorance. There are no any scientific explanations behind superstitions like a cat can bring misfortune to us while journey, An owl can make us sick by his sound, a parrot can tell our future etc.. Thus these superstitions need to be abolished from our society and should try to step forward with the development of science and technology. Superstition is a worldwide paradox. But Superstition in India is a serious worry for the development of the country.

Superstition in India is not a single day occurrence. It has come down to us from the ancient time. In ancient time people were not scientifically developed like today. During that period people considered the sun, the moon, fire, water, storm etc. Again ancient people believed that diseases are caused by evil spirits.

But later some superstitions have been washed out from the society with the development of science and technology. But still, superstition in India is not completely wiped out. In many parts of our country people still believe that if there is an itching in the right palm, there is a possibility of some gain on that day, if a crow starts to caw on the house roof; people expect the arrival of the guest. There is no any scientific reason behind superstitions like this.

Another superstition in India is the utmost belief in ghost or supernatural powers. Some people still believe in ghost and think that there is the existence of ghost. Even some superstitious people have classified the seven days of the week in the different category. They believe that Tuesday and Saturday are not an auspicious day to start a new work. On the other hand, Thursday is the best day to start a new work. Superstition in India is really a serious concern.