Tree Frog Forestry News

Why we knock on wood

By Rosemary Hathaway
The Washington Post
January 30, 2020
Category: Froggy Foibles
Region: United States, US West

Ever said something like, “I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket” – and then quickly, for luck, rapped your knuckles on a wooden table or doorframe? Americans accompany this action by saying, “Knock on wood.” In Great Britain, it’s “Touch wood.” They knock on wood in Turkey, too. …The answer is complicated. The common explanation for knocking on wood claims the ritual is a holdover from Europe’s pagan days, an appeal to tree-dwelling spirits to ward off bad luck or an expression of gratitude for good fortune. …Furthermore, the theory goes, Christian reformers in Europe may have deliberately transformed this heathenish belief into a more acceptable Christian one by introducing the idea that the “wood” in “knock on wood” referred to the wood of the cross of Jesus’ crucifixion. …Today, knocking on wood may seem trivial, but it is one small way people quell their fears in a life full of anxieties.

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