“Keep your finger crossed”. How many times have you told this expression or crossed your fingers when making a wish in hope that things will eventually go well? Chances are more than a few. But have you ever wondered when and how did this weird tradition come to be?
Interestingly, the origins of this gesture can be traced back to two different periods of time: in Western Europe during the pre-Christian era and to the early days of Christianity – especially popular among the Romans, the Celts and the Anglo-Saxos.
So, why do we cross fingers for good luck? (the article continues after the ad)
Originally, in pre-Christian era, there was a custom which involved two people intersecting their index fingers when making a wish in order to form a cross. This was based on the pagan belief that the powerful symbol of cross and its point of intersection housed the beneficent spirits. Therefore, any wish made on a cross meant that ‘good’ spirits would make it come true. The tradition involved two people as it was believed that while one person wished, the other one was offering mental support in order for the desire to be accomplished.
As years went by though, and Christianity started to expand all over Europe, the custom transformed from a “two-person” to a “one-person” gesture. This was made gradually and for two main reasons: first of all, it was more convenient to do it all by yourself yourself. Secondly, by crossing the index and the middle fingers, one was forming an X, not indicating the pagan cross anymore, but rather the Scottish cross of St. Andrew.
Customs like this one, which once were religious, are often evolved but still remain commonplace and that’s why we still cross our fingers when wishing for good luck.