Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Very superstitieux...

According to a recent article in Le Figaro, the number of French people who admit to being superstitious is on the rise.

The big marketing and poll-taking group, TNS Sofres, has recently published their poll or sondage results which say that 41% of the French population consider themselves to be superstitous.

Apparently, admitting to being superstitious in France used to be considered taboo. I don't know if it was a religious or philosophical thing, but it just wasn't the 'done' thing to publically show one's superstitions. Voltaire said that 'Superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy; the mad daughter of a wise woman'.

I guess nobody really wants to be considered mad if they can help it.

The report says that it's the younger part of the population, ages 15-34 that are the most superstitous. Maybe it has to do with a decrease in religious faith, or the desire to have something, anything, to believe in, I don't know.

Most of the signs of bad luck and things that bring good luck are similar in France and the States. A four-leaf clover (le trèfle à quatre feuilles), a shooting star (une étoile filante), to knock on wood (toucher du bois), all good things. Black cats, walking under ladders, breaking mirrors, not so good.

Some interesting French superstitions include never placing the bread upside down on the table, never lighting 3 cigarettes with one match, and not wearing new clothes on a Friday, and particularly not vendredi 13. Stepping in dog poo with the left food is a good thing, and so is touching the red pompom of a béret d'un marin.

My superstitions are rather junvenial, I know, like making a wish when the clock says 11.11, or lifting my feet when I drive over railroad tracks. But I never hesitate walking under a ladder if I have to, and black cats have never spooked me. I don't, however, have a good luck charm, or grigris. Sarkozy is rumored to keep a four-leaf clover with his papers, and Andre Agassi used to use the same towel during his matches. Maybe that's what my life is missing....

How about you? Are you superstitious? Are there things you avoid doing or that make you feel unlucky? Do you have a lucky charm? Doing anything special this Friday the 13th?


Dedene said...

My French MIL is the most superstitious person ever! If you cross your knife and fork on the dinner plate, she almost has a heart attack. I find the French horribly superstitious.
I'm not at all.

Olga Granda-Scott said...

I agree that the French are very superstitious, but I think Americans are a little too. I was shocked that your source thought the younger populations were more superstitious than the older ones, I would have guessed the other way around.

A Work In Progress.. said...

I definitely feel the need to "knock on wood" when the occasion calls for it, but other than that I am not very superstitious. I would have guessed that the older generation was more superstitious also.