Millions of Brits have bemoaned a spell of bad luck – that they blame on breaking a superstition.

A survey of 2,000 adults found ‘the fear of the unknown’ keeps 45 per cent saluting magpies, hoarding lucky pennies and being extra careful around mirrors.

However, one in 10 think they’ve been left unlucky by accidentally opening an umbrella indoors and an eighth of the population believe their luck has plummeted after cracking a mirror – leaving them open to misfortune for a whole seven years.

The study also found a quarter of people would never book a flight that leaves on Friday 13th, for fear of negative repercussions.

The research was commissioned by fair online Casino and Bingo site PlayOJO, which has launched a new feature that reveals the most and least profitable games, based on real-time data.

Peter Bennett from PlayOJO said:

“We have all experienced good or bad luck over the course of our lives and many of us will probably feel a bit superstitious from time to time.

“A lot of common superstitions have become daily habits for people, as we have all grown up hearing someone close to us pass them down the generations.

“For many they seem to help give a sense of control or comfort in a world that often seems chaotic.”

black cat
Common superstition: crossing paths with a black cat

The research also found seven in 10 have crossed paths with a black cat – with 11 per cent believing it has led to misfortune.

Brits also believe superstitions can also help boost their chances of good luck, as well as warding off bad – when playing the lottery, 15 per cent will always pick the same numbers to help their chances.

Many respondents even have lucky items they wear to certain occasions, including items of jewellery, money, stuffed toys and even certain pairs of underpants or socks.

Women appear to be more likely to be superstitious than men, as three fifths believe walking under a ladder is bad luck, compared to two in five men.

These common beliefs are spread easily, as over half of those surveyed by OnePoll learnt about superstitions from a parent (52 per cent), while others also learnt from friends, grandparents or at school.

Although, 66 per cent said they did not know their historical origins – for instance, the opening of an umbrella in Ancient Egypt was sacred and doing so indoors insulted the God of the Sun.

Knocking on wood, meanwhile, is an ancient Pagan tradition, as they believed spirits and gods lived in trees.

And for the Ancient Greeks and Romans, blessing a sneeze would stop a person’s soul escaping afterward.

Peter Bennett added:

“Often, doing an action a certain way has yielded positive results, so the idea of repeating to get the same result makes sense to many of us.

“Especially when it comes to online gambling – players want to know what might help them have the most luck and success, so adding an extra element of control may give them more confidence in the decisions they are making, if they like to follow their superstitions.

“Our new ‘hot and cold’ feature enables players to choose the most or least popular games of the moment to try out based on their recent profitability.”


1. Walking under a ladder is bad luck

2. Opening an umbrella indoors is bad luck

3. Crossing your fingers for good luck

4. Breaking a mirror gives seven years bad luck

5. Finding a penny is good luck

6. Saying “God bless you” when someone sneezes

7. Knocking on wood to reverse bad luck

8. Friday 13th is an unlucky day

9. Throwing spilled salt over your shoulder to avoid bad luck

10. Not putting new shoes on the table

11. Making a wish on a wishbone

12. Saluting when you see a magpie

13. Not telling someone your birthday wish or it won’t come true

14. Itchy palms meaning good fortune is on the horizon

15. A bird pooing on you is good luck

16. Eating cheese before bed gives you bad dreams

17. Crossing the path of a black cat is a bad omen

18. Walking over three drains

19. Owning a lucky rabbit’s foot

20. Stepping on cracks will break your mother’s back


Aviva is the Content Manager at PlayOJO and writes blogs, copy and all things OJOey. A copy/content marketer for over 7 years, she gets her creative juices flowing by singing, dancing (around her living room), and belly laughing regularly.

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