“Knock On Wood” — Bad Luck Protection

Context :

JF is a 22 year old college student at USC from Rhode Island. Growing up, his family would knock on wood to prevent bad luck.

Text :

“If I want something good to happen, and I speak it into existence, I always get a little nervous it might not come true because I vocalized it so I always knock on wood to counter it.”

Analysis :

It’s interesting that JF grew up hearing “knock on wood” from his family because he is Jewish, and some say that the phrase originates from Christians linking it to Christ’s crucifixion. However, it has spread throughout much of the United States and is now a common saying, despite the origins. For JF, he continues to perform the action because usually there is no bad luck associated with what he is speaking into existence. In a way, he is experiencing the placebo effect because he associates bad luck blocks with knocking on wood, and when he doesn’t knock on wood and something bad happens, that’s why.