Today we’re embarking on a unique journey – diving into the intriguing world of superstitions. One superstition, in particular, has caught our eye: the belief that an itchy left palm indicates a lottery of jackpot win on the horizon. Now, that’s quite a claim! So, get ready as we unravel this cultural phenomenon’s truth, fact by fact, itch by itch.
A World Rich with Superstitions
Superstitions, by definition, are beliefs or practices resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic, or chance. Throughout history, they’ve guided people’s actions, especially when it comes to attracting wealth or good fortune. Superstitions and signs of good luck are as varied and colorful as human cultures themselves. Here are a few widely recognized ones from around the world:
1. Ringing in the New Year: In many cultures, the New Year is seen as a fresh start, and various superstitions and traditions are associated with ensuring good luck for the coming year. In Spain, for instance, people eat 12 grapes at midnight, each grape representing good luck for one month of the coming year. In the southern United States, eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is considered to bring prosperity.
2. Knocking on Wood: This is a common superstition in Western cultures used to ward off bad luck after making a favorable prediction or boast, or when one mentions good fortune that one has had so far. The idea is that by knocking on wood, you’re seeking protection from the “evil spirits” that might hear and ruin your good luck. It’s believed that this superstition may have come from ancient pagan traditions where certain trees or groves were thought to be the homes of benign spirits or gods.
3. Carrying a Rabbit’s Foot: This is another common symbol of good luck in many Western cultures, especially in North America. It’s thought to originate from African-American folk magic known as “Hoodoo”. It’s typically the left hind foot of a rabbit that is considered lucky, and even more so if the rabbit was killed in a cemetery under a full moon.
4. Four-Leaf Clovers: These are considered to be a sign of good luck in Irish tradition. Each leaf in the clover symbolizes something: the first for faith, the second for hope, the third for love, and the fourth for luck. Finding a four-leaf clover is considered particularly lucky because they are rare.
5. Lucky Number Seven: In many cultures, the number seven is considered lucky. It’s a significant number in various religions and cultures. There are seven days in a week, seven continents, seven colors in a rainbow, and seven notes on a musical scale, which all contribute to the positive connotations of the number.
6. Horseshoes: In many cultures, horseshoes are considered symbols of good luck due to their association with horses, which were often seen as symbols of speed, power, and protection. The luck of the horseshoe is thought to work best when it’s hung in a U shape so it can “collect” good luck.
7. Money Plant: In the Hindu religion, the Money Plant (Epipremnum aureum, also known as Golden Pothos, Devil’s Ivy, or Silver Vine) holds a special place. This vining plant, common as an indoor houseplant worldwide, is considered a symbol of good luck and prosperity.
The association of the Money Plant with wealth comes from a popular belief rooted in Vastu Shastra – the traditional system of architecture in India, akin to Chinese Feng Shui. According to Vastu, certain plants promote positive energy in the environment, and the Money Plant is one of them.
The superstition around the Money Plant is connected to Goddess Lakshmi, the Hindu deity of wealth, fortune, and prosperity. It’s believed that nurturing a Money Plant at home can attract the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi and pave the way for a prosperous life. To this end, some people even practice a ritual of wrapping the plant’s creeper around a coin and placing it in the pot, symbolizing the growth of wealth.
However, like all superstitions, it’s important to remember that these beliefs aren’t scientifically validated. The positive impact of keeping houseplants, including the Money Plant, can be more accurately attributed to their air-purifying properties and the psychological benefits of being around greenery. The superstition involving the Money Plant and Goddess Lakshmi provides an interesting insight into the cultural practices tied to prosperity in the Hindu tradition.
Origins of the Itchy Left Palm Superstition
The old wives’ tale regarding an itchy left palm is steeped in history and varies from culture to culture. The belief in this particular itch’s predictive power seems to have originated in Europe, especially in the British Isles.
There, it was believed that if a person rubbed their itchy left palm on wood, it would assure the arrival of money. The superstition was later carried across the Atlantic and became fairly well-known in the United States, too.
Why the left hand specifically? In many cultures, the left side is considered to be less lucky or even negative. In Christianity, for instance, the left hand is often associated with betrayal – consider the seating arrangement at the Last Supper, where Judas Iscariot is often depicted sitting to Christ’s left.
The left-hand itching belief is also tied to the distinction between giving (associated with the right hand) and receiving (associated with the left hand). This can be found in many cultures globally, where the right hand is traditionally used for giving or paying out money, while the left hand receives it. So, an itching left palm would signify money coming in, while right hand itching could suggest money going out.
So, what does it mean when your left hand itches? In many cultures, an itchy left palm implies unexpected money coming your way. How did this superstition begin? Some believe it traces back to Saxo Grammaticus, a Danish historian who mentioned ‘itching palms’ in relation to greed. For others, it’s an old wives’ tale passed down generations. But does the superstition differ for men and women? Not typically. The interpretation of the left palm itching is usually consistent across genders.
Now, I bet you’re thinking, “What about the right hand itching?” Interestingly, in some cultures, an itchy right palm signifies that money is going out, hinting at potential bad luck. Don’t worry, though – it’s just a superstition!
Differences Between Men and Women
The superstition about an itching left hand indicating incoming wealth or financial windfall doesn’t specify any gender differences. The belief is generally applied to all individuals, regardless of their gender.
However, the way this superstition is interpreted or applied may vary depending on cultural norms or societal roles. For example, in some societies where women are traditionally homemakers and males are seen as the primary earners, an itchy left hand in a man might be more likely to be associated with an increase in salary or a profitable business deal. Meanwhile, for a female, it could be linked to her husband’s earnings or seen as an indicator of good luck around the home.
On a medical level, certain conditions causing itchy palms like hand eczema or psoriasis do not discriminate between men and women. However, it is noteworthy to mention that autoimmune diseases (including psoriasis) are generally more common in women than men, which might indirectly affect the prevalence of symptoms like itchy palms.
Medical Reasons for Itchy Palms
There can be a multitude of reasons why your palms may itch, and while we’d love it to be a sign of an impending windfall, it’s more often related to skin conditions or underlying health issues. Here are a few possible causes:
Dry skin: Dry skin, or xerosis, can make your palms itchy. This condition can result from environmental factors like cold, dry weather, or overwashing your hands.
Eczema: Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a condition that causes your skin to become itchy, red, and dry. Dyshidrotic eczema specifically affects hands and feet and could lead to an itchy palm.
Psoriasis: This is a chronic autoimmune condition that can cause a buildup of skin cells and form scaly patches on your skin. Palm psoriasis can make your palms itchy and want to scratch them.
Allergic reaction: Contact dermatitis is a skin reaction that happens when you touch a substance that irritates your skin or causes an allergic reaction, such as certain types of metals, soap, or plants.
Diabetes: In some cases, diabetes can lead to itchy skin, including the palms, due to poor blood circulation or yeast infections that are common in people with diabetes.
Liver disease: Itchy skin can be a symptom of liver disease. The itchiness is likely due to your liver’s inability to filter toxins from your body efficiently.
If your itchy palms persist or cause concern, it’s always best to seek medical advice.
Other Non-Medical Reasons for Itchy Palms
Outside of medical causes, people often attribute itchy palms to various superstitions and beliefs. Here are a few:
Astrology: Some people believe that itchy palms can be related to the movement of the planets or a particular person’s horoscope.
Energy and Chakras: In certain spiritual practices, itchy palms might suggest that you’re coming into contact with certain energies, or experiencing a blockage or overactivity in your hand chakras.
Psychic Phenomena: Some people believe that itchy palms could be a sign of a psychic phenomenon. They might think that their left palm itches when someone is thinking of them or when something significant is about to happen in their lives.
Spiritual Communication: In certain belief systems, physical symptoms like itching are interpreted as messages from the spiritual realm. An itchy palm could be taken as a sign or message from a spirit guide.
It’s important to note that while these beliefs are held by some, they’re not supported by scientific evidence. They offer a window into the fascinating ways that different cultures interpret and ascribe meaning to everyday physical experiences.
Itchy Palm Lottery Win Stories
When it comes to left hand itching and lottery winners, the tales are as intriguing as they are varied. Let’s delve into a few of these stories.
A popular tale when it comes to the itchy left palm superstition and lottery wins involves Mary Shammas, a Brooklyn grandmother who credited her left hand’s itch for her good fortune.
In 2010, Mary Shammas was riding on a Brooklyn bus when her left palm began to itch. Remembering the old superstition her mother had told her about – that the left hand itching meaning, it that money is on its way – she decided to act upon it. She immediately asked her daughter to purchase a lottery ticket using family members’ birthdays as the numbers.
The result? A whopping $64 million New York Lottery jackpot – one of the biggest in the state’s history at the time.
This tale has undoubtedly added fuel to the fire of the left hand itching superstition. However, while the story is truly remarkable and memorable, it’s important to take it in context. Mary’s win was more about chance and the decision to purchase a lottery ticket than the itch itself. It’s a classic example of “post hoc, ergo propter hoc” reasoning – Latin for “after this, therefore because of this.” This logical fallacy assumes that because one event happened after another, then the first must be the cause of the second. The itching of Mary’s left palm occurred before the lottery win, but it did not cause the win.
So, while Mary’s story is indeed an entertaining tale of an itchy left palm leading to lottery luck, it doesn’t offer empirical evidence to support the superstition. Just like other similar anecdotes, it serves to highlight how we, as humans, love to find patterns and establish cause-effect relationships, even when they’re a product of random chance.
from North Carolina, claimed his left palm itch was the reason behind his purchase of a $5 lottery ticket that won him a staggering $200,000 in 2016. Pittman stated that whenever his left hand itches, money’s coming. And this time, it did.
But can we establish a direct connection between his itchy palm and the win? The fact is, it was Pittman’s decision to buy a lottery ticket that led to his win, not the itching per se. There’s no scientific proof linking physical symptoms to a future event. So, while it’s an exciting narrative, it seems more about chance and coincidence than causation.
Melissa Ede, a taxi driver from Hull, England, scooped a £4m lottery win in 2017. She shared that she often experienced itchy hands before something ‘big’ happened, making a link between the itch and her major win.
It’s possible that Ede’s claim might be based on the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, where one stumbles upon some obscure piece of information—often an unfamiliar word or name—and soon afterwards encounters the same subject again, often repeatedly. Any small itch before a ‘big’ event may stand out more in her memory due to this phenomenon, leading her to make a connection where none exists.
In all these cases, the common thread is that these individuals chose to attribute their good fortune to an itchy hand, but this is a matter of personal belief rather than empirical fact. There’s no denying these are fun, entertaining stories, but they shouldn’t be taken as evidence of a left hand itch being a legitimate sign of lottery luck. Instead, they serve as fascinating examples of how humans seek patterns and causality, even in the face of pure chance.
Coincidence or Causation?
It’s easy to see a correlation where one might not exist. In the cases of Pittman and our Reddit friend, it seems more like a coincidence than causation. As humans, we’re prone to remember instances that confirm our beliefs (like getting lottery winnings when our hand itched) and forget the ones that don’t (all the times our hand itched, and we didn’t win). This is a cognitive bias known as the “confirmation bias.”
Also see: Money traps people often fall for
The Mathematical Reality of Lotteries
Playing the lottery can be a fun pastime, but it’s critical to understand the mathematics behind it. Here are some key points to consider:
Odds of Winning: The odds of winning a major lottery such as the Powerball or Mega Millions are incredibly slim. For instance, the chances of winning the Powerball grand prize are approximately 1 in 292.2 million. That means you’re about 20 times more likely to be struck by lightning in your lifetime than to win the Powerball.
Expected Value: The expected value of a lottery ticket, which is the average amount of money you would win if you played the lottery an infinite number of times, is usually negative. This means that in the long run, you’re expected to lose money.
Probability Theory: The lottery is a game of independent events. This means that each draw is independent of the previous one. So the idea of a “due number” that has to come up soon because it hasn’t been drawn recently is a misconception.
Law of Large Numbers: While in the short run, outcomes might deviate from the expected result; in the long run, the outcomes will converge to the expected result. In the case of a lottery, the more you play, the more likely you are to lose.
The lottery, despite the dreams it evokes, is a game of chance with highly unlikely odds. If you play, play responsibly, and never view it as a means to fix financial troubles or secure a stable future. Remember, an itching palm – left or right – doesn’t change the statistical reality of your lottery number being drawn.
Superstition and Reality: Finding the Balance
Superstitions like the itchy left palm can add some fun to our routines, but it’s vital not to let these beliefs guide our financial decisions. The thrill of buying a lottery ticket with the hope of winning big can be a rush, but it shouldn’t overshadow the need to save money and live frugally.
The world of superstitions is a fascinating one, offering a glimpse into human psychology and the patterns we try to find in life’s unpredictability. The belief that an itchy left palm means money is coming is just one such example. But remember, whether it’s the itchy right hand indicating potential loss or an itchy left palm suggesting impending wealth, these are just superstitions, not fact.
Financial responsibility remains key, regardless of whether your palm itches or not. So, the next time your left hand itches, before rushing to buy a lottery ticket, remember this article and maybe just reach for some good ol’ moisturizer for that dry skin instead.
What’s your experience with this superstition? Do you have a money superstition of your own? Let’s continue the conversation about the enthralling world of superstitions and financial responsibility in the comments.