you ever wondered where the expression comes from? The expression is
used almost universally by people around the world accompanied by the
touching of an item made from wood as a form of protection, but why and
protection against what?
When in discussion on a subject
regarding good luck and health, the custom of touching a piece of wood
is normally carried out with the right hand. It is usual for the person
to hope that, whatever topic is being discussed, it will be protected
from failure or misfortune.
The custom is thought to originate
from Pagan times when trees were held in high esteem. People believed
that 'wood spirits' inhabited the trees and woodlands. To touch a tree
with respect is thought to indicate that the person was in search of
protection from the particular wood spirit.
It is thought also
that the action may be a result of the Christian belief in The
Crucifixion. Christ was crucified on a cross made of wood and hence
touching wood may now be a sign of this belief, and a sign of deep
compassion and reverence for Christ's resurrection. This would of
course have no connection with the Pagan reasoning, but perhaps the
action may be seen as result of two distinctive belief systems.
wood still occurs but has developed through time to include touching
any item made from wood and rarely includes a tree (although some woods
are still viewed as sacred). Regarded today by many as only a
superstition, it is somewhat of a mystery why the action still occurs
for the majority of people. Perhaps this has to do with the action
being viewed as a superstition with a desire not
to break a custom,
or a 20th-century conscience knowing the practice of boasting is
frowned upon. Misfortune may occur after bragging or assuming that a
successful outcome will result from a task, and hence the ritual of
touching wood is used merely to salve the conscience rather than
indicate any investment in a traditional belief.
Some people actually touch their own heads when uttering the
which is perhaps more of a light hearted action referring to their
intelligence (or lack of it at certain times). One Dutch tradition that
is said to still be practised is the touching of the underside of a
wooden table when such a thought is muttered, perhaps to divert the
attention of the evil eye and negative influences.