Knock on Wood: The Origin

Image of Irish ForestMost people have been in a situation in which a person has made a statement about something good happening then proceeded to knock on wood. The origin of this phrase and tradition is not fully explainable however there are some scholars that point to its origin being in Eastern Europe (most likely Ireland). Centuries ago people believed that trees were sacred and contained spirits. When the trees were cut their spirits were subsequently released thereby making the wood available to house other spirits such as evil spirits. By knocking on wood one would effectively drive any evil spirits away and protect the one making the statement of fortune from any future ill-fortune. Another explanation is that one would knock on or touch wood to thank the leprechauns for their good luck. In the U.S. the phrase used is “knock on wood” whereas the original phrase is actually “touch wood” and is used in the U.K. and elsewhere.

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