During the Middle Ages, it was believed that ringing church bells during thunderstorms would ward off lightning. However, this practice was discontinued after over 100 bell ringers were struck and killed by lightning.
In the Middle Ages, people believed that a “mandrake root” was a human-shaped root that grew beneath the gallows where criminals had been hanged. It was believed that the mandrake root would shriek when it was pulled out of the ground, and that anyone who heard the shriek would die. As a result, people would often tie a dog to the root and then try to pull it out of the ground while standing at a safe distance, so that the dog would be killed by the shriek instead of them.
In reality, mandrake roots are a type of plant with a long, thin taproot that is shaped like a carrot. They have a strong and unpleasant smell, and they have been used for centuries for their medicinal properties. However, the myth of the mandrake root as a shrieking human-shaped root grew out of the strange shapes that the roots can sometimes take on, and the belief that they had magical powers.
Generations of Cornish and American miners believe in the Tommyknockers, small gnome-like men who live inside mines. Sometimes they favor the miners, and other times knocking on timbers to make them collapse. It was considered very bad luck not to leave cake for them at the end of the day.
Kit Kats in Japan are associated with the phrase Kitto Katsu (きっと勝つ), translated as “You will surely win”, and thus a good luck charm for students. Katsudon (pork cutlet rice bowl) is also known as a good luck food, so people would eat it the night before important events like exams, interviews, etc.
In the Middle Ages there was a belief animals understood the concept of morality and possessed rationality. They were summoned to court, put on trial for a variety of offenses, and given the same punishments as humans. Lawyers defended pigs, rats, and sheep. Even flies and slugs faced judgement.
Between the 1840’s and 1940’s there was an idea that couples did better to sleep in separate beds. People thought if couples slept together the sleeper who was weaker in some way (such as older) would absorb vitality from the sleeper who was stronger in some way.
The founder of Celestial Seasonings, maker of the wildly popular Sleepytime Tea, is the leader of a New Age cult that believes we live on “Urantia” and that pale aliens named Adam and Eve came to Earth to “purify” the planet of the inferior races, including gigantic green and orange people. According to Urantia’s text, a half a million years ago six colored races existed on our planet – red, orange, yellow, green, blue and indigo.
The fork was once considered immoral, unhygienic and a tool of the devil. The first dining forks were used by the ruling class in the Middle East and the Byzantine Empire. In 1004, Maria Argyropoulina, niece of the Byzantine emperors Basil II and Constantine VIII, was married to the son of the Doge of Venice. She brought with her a little case of two-pronged golden forks, which she used at her wedding feast. The Venetians were shocked, and when Maria died three years later of the plague, Saint Peter Damian proclaimed it was God’s punishment.
There is a thing called the “sweater curse.” Some knitters believe that knitting a sweater for a signifcant other and giving it to them as a gift will result in a breakup. A 2005 poll found that 15% of knitters have experienced it firsthand.
Triclavianism is the belief that three nails were used to crucify Jesus. The issue of whether three or four nails were used has been a matter for a centuries-old theological debate.