What is the origin of the superstition in Britain that touching wood is lucky?

Touching wood is probably one of the most commonly held beliefs to have existed all through the years. The idea behind the superstition that touching wood is lucky is more accurate that, touching or knocking on a piece of wood seals up a lucky thing or one’s own luck. This superstition is known to have more than one origin and is a subject of debate.

Mythological Mentions

One of the explanations about its origin could be the age-old Pagan belief that trees were the homes of spirits, dryads, fairies and such other mystical creatures. A person in order to ask for a good fortune would have to touch or knock on the wood of the tree trunk. This was done so as to wake these magical creatures up or to invoke them to grant the blessings of good fortune on mortals.

This also makes sense in Irish myths of fairies living inside of tree trunks. In the ancient Celtic Mythology, trees were seen as oracles and the holy abode of Gods and divine spirits. Thus, wood from trees was believed to have this supernatural prowess of bestowing good fortune. The superstition that touching wood is lucky also finds its origin in the Christian belief.

Theological Basis

There is a belief that any piece of wood symbolically stands for the wooden cross that Jesus Christ bore to his crucifixion. Thus a piece of wood is considered holy in Christianity. It is known to have powers to ward off evil by seeking the protection of God, thereby ensuring good fortune upon that touch or knock on it.

It is interesting to note that this is one of the many superstitions that have evolved through the intermingling of cross cultures. Thus it finds an origin and meaning not only in Britain but also in other parts of the globe such as the Arab countries, Brazil, Finland and Czechoslovakia among others.