“I hope we don’t get another snow storm…knock on wood!”

You can probably imagine 99% of the population thinking or speaking these exact words in response to the horrible snow storm last year and the couple of inches we got this weekend. But, what does knocking on wood actually mean and why do we do it?

Back in olden times, the pagans worshiped and idolized many facets of nature, including trees. They believed if they touched or knocked on a tree, the spirits or gods on the inside would give them protection from any evil coming their way. The knocks were to ward off evil beings from hearing their wishes, spoiling a person’s luck, or even using their strong pride against them.

As time moved forward, other religions took the idea of the knocking or touching a tree or piece of wood for protection. The Christians believed that by knocking on the wood, like the wooden cross Christ was crucified on, they would have the protection of God. And Jewish beliefs reached back to the time synagogues and temples were made of wood and, by knocking on the wood with a code, the Jewish people would find sanctuary from oppression.

Curiously, we can see that this similar phrase and belief is found in cultures around the globe. In the Arab world “امسك الخشب” translates as “knock on wood,” the phrase in Brazil “bater na madeira” means the same, as well as the Czech “klepat na dřevo,” the Finnish “koputtaa puuta,” the Greek “chtipa xilo,” the Swedish “ta i trä,” etc.

So, will this superstition prevent us from turning into icicles before the spring comes back? Or, do we run the risk of more splinters?