Have you heard of the English expression “Knock on wood”?
The expression “Knock on wood” is a superstitious phrase used to ward off bad luck or prevent a jinx.
Where did the expression “knock on wood” come from?
The exact origins of the phrase are not entirely clear, but it is believed to have ancient roots that date back to various cultures and their beliefs in the supernatural.
Pagan roots of “knock on wood”
One popular theory suggests that the phrase may have originated from pagan traditions where people believed that spirits resided in trees. To appease or seek protection from these spirits, people would tap or knock on trees to request their favor or express gratitude. Over time, this practice evolved into the saying “Knock on wood,” where the action of knocking on wood is done to invoke the protective power of the spirits within the trees.
The Christian Theory: Power of the Cross of Jesus
Another theory connects the phrase to Christianity and the belief in the Holy Cross. Some sources suggest that people would touch or knock on wood as a gesture of seeking protection from evil or bad luck by invoking the power of the cross. In this context, wood symbolizes the material of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.
Usage of “Knock on Wood” around the world
The phrase also has roots in various cultures and superstitions around the world. For example, in some cultures, people might knock on wood to prevent the Devil from hearing their optimistic statements, thereby avoiding tempting fate.
Current Usage of “Knock on Wood”
Regardless of its exact origin, “Knock on wood” has become a common idiom in the English language, and people use it today without necessarily being aware of its historical or cultural background. It’s often said after making a positive statement to avoid tempting fate or to express a desire for continued good luck.