Special Report

Popular Superstitions From Each State -- From Lucky Pennies to Hawaii Rocks

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines superstition as “a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation.” That may sound like a harsh description for something many of us innocently engage in from time to time.

You might consider yourself a very rational person, but then something as simple as a calendar date or a number makes you feel differently about a certain situation. For example, you might think twice about boarding a plane on Friday the 13th. Here are 19 reasons why Friday the 13th still scares us.

24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of superstitions that still prevail in each state or region. We drew on material from academic journals, digital libraries, as well as a new report based on Google search data that shows the most popular superstitions for each in the 50 states and D.C.

Many of the superstitions that are part of everyday life — breaking a mirror causes seven years of bad luck; don’t walk under a ladder; avoiding a black cat — have no particular geographic connection. Superstitions associated with a particular state or region often reflect the area’s cultural heritage and the peoples who settled there and live there today.

The origin of these superstitions varies and include stories from Native Americans, local sports legends, or geographical anomalies. Some have their origins in a tragedy, and others are customs pertaining to holidays such as New Year’s Day.

Superstitions typically take form as omens of good and bad luck. While we may know we have no control over airline safety, winning the lottery, or the outcome of a sports game, it doesn’t prevent us from performing some ritual to try to affect the outcome. Most of the superstitions are aimed to avoid bad luck or bring good fortune. These are the weirdest superstitions people believe will bring wealth.

Click here to see popular superstitions from each state

To create a list of popular and common superstitions in every state, 24/7 Tempo reviewed different sources, including academic journals on folklore obtained from the digital library JSTOR as well as stories reported by local media. We also looked at a new report based on Google search data that shows the most popular superstitions in each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

A superstition is an irrational or mythological belief that is held by a community over time. 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 U.S.