“Don’t walk under a ladder because it’s bad luck.”

Although Lindsey Spiegelman says she does not believe in this superstition very heavily, she still lives by this superstition. Whenever she sees a ladder, she does not walk under it. She will avoid it, if possible, because she does not want bad luck for the rest of her life. She says it is like taking a precaution against a curse being put upon her luck and life. One can find this superstition in publication. It is on page 225 of A Dictionary of Superstitions.

She does not recall who told her this superstition, but she guesses that someone probably told her when she was in elementary school. She brings up this superstition whenever she sees a ladder. If she sees someone about to walk underneath a ladder, she will yell for that person to stop. This superstition has become a kind of ritual for Lindsey. She says she cannot remember a time she has ever walked under a ladder, and now it is complete habit to avoid walking under one.

I agree with Lindsey that one should probably avoid walking under ladders. I am not sure whether or not I believe something bad will happen if one does, but I figure since it is not very much out of my way to avoid walking underneath a ladder, I might as well try to so I do not inflict some sort of bad luck or curse upon myself or someone I care about.

It is interesting that the line between ritual and superstition is blurry. I think that one can have rituals, without being superstitious. However, I think that if one carries superstitions with them, and believes in them, habits and rituals develop as a result of belief in those superstitions.

Superstitions also show what is acceptable in a culture. In our culture, it is acceptable to believe that walking under a ladder could possibly result in bad luck. In other cultures, however, it might be deemed silly that we avoid walking under ladders at all costs. People from other cultures might laugh when they see Americans dodging ladders.

Superstitions also say something about our identity. We are a superstitious group of people. While many people would like to say they do not believe in these silly superstitions, they still do tend to follow the superstitions’ stipulations. Lindsey and myself are examples of people who say they do not really believe in the superstition, yet they still refuse to walk underneath ladders. We figure that there is no harm in avoiding walking under ladders. There is a huge psychological element involved in superstitions; it makes one feel better if they just follow the cultural superstitions present in society.

Annotation: Opie, Iona Archibald, and Moira Tatem. A Dictionary of Superstitions. Oxford [England]: Oxford University Press, 1989.