Jan 11, 2023

Don’t do that – it’s bad luck!

And just how, exactly, does that work?


Welcome to the first 5 Minute Break of 2023!

I am writing this on 6th January, having just taken down my Christmas decorations. It didn’t take me long; there was only a string of coloured lights and a few Christmas cards.

OK, just call me the Grinch. Or Scrooge. Bah, humbug, etc.

I chose today to take them down, not because it is the traditional date, or there’s any religious significance for me, but because I happened to be sitting on my sofa gazing absent-mindedly at them, when I suddenly decided their time had come. Hasta la vista, decs.

As I say, there was no particular reason based on religion or tradition. It is purely coincidental that the impulse came on Jan 6th – which is, according to some, Twelfth Night, and therefore the traditional religious time to take them down (see: Church of England). Although it might not have been quite such serendipity, as there are others who say Twelfth Night is actually the 5th January, so I missed it by a day. Apparently it’s all down to whether you count Christmas Day as the First Night, or start counting from the day after. Or whatever.

But the point here is that religious tradition says it is ‘bad luck’ to take them down after Twelfth Night.

This got me thinking. Why do we talk of ‘bad luck’ when you do something contrary to some superstition or tradition? Walking under ladders, new shoes on the table, broken mirrors, a single magpie – there are plenty of examples. And there are many people who will say, with a totally straight face, ‘don’t do [that thing], it will bring you bad luck.’

What? I mean, what? How is that supposed to work, exactly?

[read the rest of this article here]