Many of the superstitions that are part of everyday life — breaking a mirror causes seven years’ bad luck; don’t walk under a ladder; avoiding a black cat — have no particular geographic connection. Some superstitions arise from perilous situations or occupations, such as mining and seafaring.
Superstitions that are associated with a particular state or region often reflect the region’s cultural heritage and the ethnic groups that settled there. Some are stories from Native Americans; products of local sports legends; derived from a geographical anomaly; originate from a tragedy that resonates for generations; or are customs pertaining to holidays such as New Year’s Day.
Not all superstitions are bound by state borders. This is particularly true in regions such as the Appalachian region, which spans areas in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Kentucky, as well as the Ozarks, which includes areas in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas.
Superstitions in a particular part of the United States might have counterparts in a completely different region. In Colorado, if you kill a toad, your cow will produce bloody milk. There is a similar superstition in North Carolina, except in that state you are discouraged from killing a frog.
While superstitions may be rooted in local legends, folklorists caution about so-called “fakelore” — tales that are created by advertisers. They cite mythological lumberjack Paul Bunyan, who created lakes and rivers in the West, as a device to sell products.
Science and knowledge have provided many answers to questions we have about the nature of things. But we’re still a superstitious people. Many tall buildings do not have a 13th floor. Baseball players refuse to step on the foul line. And don’t you dare step on a crack on the sidewalk, or you will break your mother’s back.
To identify every state’s local superstitions, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed sources that include academic journals on folklore obtained from the digital library JSTOR as well as stories reported by local media. A superstition is an irrational or mythological belief and is held by a community over time. Superstitions typically take form as omens of good and bad luck. Superstitions are thought to influence coming events, despite any demonstrable correlation. To be considered for the list, a superstition had to be associated with a particular state or region. In compiling this list, we attempted to inform the reader of the richness of the traditions, folklore, and customs of the diverse ethnic groups in the United States.