Which superstitions are Britons most likely to believe in?

Peter RavenData Journalist
January 24, 2023, 9:13 AM GMT+0

Women are nearly twice as likely to consider themselves to be superstitious compared to men

Do you think it's unlucky to walk under a ladder, or good luck to find a four-leaf clover? You're not alone in being superstitious, according to the results of a new YouGov Realtime survey, which reveals that a third of Britons (34%) say they are either “very” or “somewhat” superstitious.

The survey also discovered that women are significantly more likely to be superstitious than men, with 43% of women saying they were either very or somewhat superstitious compared to just 24% of men.

What things do Britons believe bring good luck?

Of 28 superstitions asked about, the tradition of knocking on a piece of wood for luck is the one that Britons are most likely to believe in, with a third (33%) saying they do so. For those who say they are superstitious, 63% believe the practice will bring them good fortune.

The chances of finding a four-leaf clover are about one in 10,000, and a third of the British public (32%) believe that finding one will bring them good luck. Two-thirds of those who say they are superstitious believe that finding the rare plant will bring good fortune (65%).

According to the old saying, ‘Find a penny, pick it up, All day long you’ll have good luck’. That remains the case for 29% of Britons who believe in the superstition, as well as for 58% of those who say they are superstitious themselves.

More than a quarter of Britons (28%) also believe that making a wish while blowing out birthday candles or seeing a shooting star will bring them good luck.

What things do Britons believe bring bad luck?

Not only can breaking a mirror be a costly accident, but it is also believed to bring seven years bad luck. It is this superstition that Britons believe is most likely to result in misfortune, with 30% saying they believe breaking a mirror is a sign of bad luck to come. Two-thirds of Britons who consider themselves superstitious (65%) believe breaking a mirror brings bad luck.

Opening an umbrella indoors is also considered bad luck and even has its own national day on 13 March. A quarter of all Britons (26%) believe opening a brolly indoors will bring bad luck, including 56% of those who say they are superstitious.

Another activity which should be avoided on safety grounds, walking under a ladder, is also considered bad luck by 29% of the British public, including 62% of those who say they are superstitious.

While a wedding day should be one of the happiest days of a couple’s life, certain activities on the day are said to bring both good and bad luck. A quarter of Britons (25%) believe that a bride wearing “something borrowed, something blue, something old and something new” on the day will bring good luck. A fifth (21%) believe that it is bad luck if the couple see each other on their special day before the ceremony.

The youngest adults are more likely to say they own an item they consider to bring them luck

One in six Britons (16%) say they own an item they believe brings them luck, such as a coin or an item of clothing. Considering those in the youngest age group are the most likely to say they are superstitious, it is no surprise that Britons aged 18 to 24 are around twice as likely to own or wear a lucky charm (28%) compared to the older age groups (14-16%).

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