Some people casually say 'touch wood' when they speak of something they hope will happen. Others won't allow peacock feathers into the house. And almost anyone who finds a four-leafed clover will treasure it and keep it. Why? Some superstitions are so ancient and have been practised for so long that they have come to be regarded as just harmless and widely observed 'customs', without people realising they are basically superstitions. For instance, many people wouldn't bother tossing spilled salt over their left shoulder or avoid walking under a ladder. But they happily continue to wear a wedding ring and blow out candles on a birthday cake.
They don't know why - 'it's just a custom'. But both are actually superstitions. In a book full of surprises and revelations, Max Cryer explains the origins of many of the things we commonly say and observe and why we continue to include them in our lives: kissing under the mistletoe, the unlucky number thirteen, the significance of the bridal bouquet, saying 'bless you' after sneezing, the hanging of a horseshoe, 'the Scottish play', the danger in opals, the Leap Year proposal ... so many aspects of our lives are coloured by superstition. Now you can discover the reasons for them in a book that is both witty and informative. Superstitions will provide many 'Eureka' moments and settle many family disputes.
Max Cryer is a seasoned researcher and writer on aspects of the English language. A well-known broadcaster and entertainer, he hosts a weekly radio slot on the subject. He has had a long and varied career, in which he has been a schoolteacher, a compere and TV host, as well as a singer in London, Las Vegas and Hollywood. Throughout it all his love of language has remained prevalent, and he is now a full-time writer based in New Zealand.