The beliefs of the medieval people.
People from the “middle ages” (from the 5th century to the 15th) had many beliefs about facts and aspects of life that did not have a reasonable explanation. These beliefs are popularly known as superstitions. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary a superstitions is “a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic orchance, or a false conception of causation an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God”. These superstitions are transferred from generations through generations and are an important aspect of every culture around the world. There are uncountable superstitions from the middle ages, but some of the most common saying “God bless you” after a sneeze, Knock on wood toprotect oneself from the bad luck, and the belief that some people, especially women, through black magic, could become witches.
Nowadays, every time a person near us sneezes it is of good custom to say “God bless you”. All of us have said it, but where does this oral tradition come from? Why do we say “God bless you? There are many suppositions related to the origin of this custom. Accordingto the Library of Congress, saying “God bless you” after someone sneezes exists from approximately 590 AD. At that time, it was believed that the human soul was set in one´s head, so the soul may escape from the body after sneezing and God´s blessing prevented this from occurring.
Other side of this superstition states that this custom actually began when the bubonic plague attacked Rome. Inorder to struggle against this plague Pope Gregory I proclaimed that everyone needed to pray without cease. Since sneezing was seen as an initial symptom of the plague, the phrase “God bless you” became very popular.
The Wikipedia Encyclopedia provides other possible origins of this superstition:
“Alternatively, it may be possible that the phrase began simply as a response for an event that wasnot well understood at the time. Another belief is that people used to see sneezing as a sign that God would answer your prayers or an omen of good fortune or good luck. In this case, "Bless you" would be in recognition of that luck.
Another medieval superstition was to knock on wood to protect against bad luck. Touch wood is a very popular tradition nowadays although most of people ignore thereal meaning of it. This saying is commonly used every time a person refers to a hypothetical tragedy that may happen to oneself or anyone else. People knock on wood to repel the event to take place. Also, this saying is also used when people brag about their good luck. For example, if someone says “I have never been in an accident” he or she must touch wood in order to keep the good luck.
TheTouch on Wood for Luck Website states that the superstition originally began with the pagans who believed that trees were inhabited by spirits and other beings. According to this website, in ancient times people used to knock on wood for two reasons, “to request good luck, or to distract spirits with evil intentions”:
“When in need of a favour or some good luck, one politely mentioned this wishto a tree and then touched the bark, representing the first "knock." The second "knock" was to say "thank you." The knocking was also supposed to prevent evil spirits from hearing your speech and as such stop them from interfering”.
There is other belief regarding the reason why people touch wood which is totally opposite from the pagan idea. The Mystical World Wide Web provides an alternativeorigin for this superstition. It is believed that this saying may come from the Christian religion. Since Jesus Christ died on a cross, many religious people started to do this action of knock on wood as a reaffirmation of their faith and show respect and worship to the sacrifice of Jesus.
Last but not least, one of the most shocking and controversial beliefs of the middle ages was that there...
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