Ladders


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Daniel Parkinson's picture
Daniel Parkinson
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The superstition of not walking under a ladder seems to be quite widespread – I always thought it was just common sense to stop someone dropping something on your head. But I recently found a reference that suggested it was because a ladder forms a natural triangle against a wall which represents the holy trinity and that stepping through this shows disrespect and will cause bad luck.

Any ideas seems a bit complicated to me, and does that mean it is only a superstition in Christian countries?

Nessa's picture
Nessa
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Re: Ladders

This superstition is one of the most widespread in Britain. There are three main reasons for the origins of this.
:- First being The ladder forms a triangle against the wall and floor and as christians believe is the holy trinity so it would be disrespectful.

:- Second being the ladder being symbilic of the ladder used to take jesus off the cross and some say under the ladder lurked the devil.

:- Third being that the ladder and angle represents the gallows and the ladder that must be climbed before death.

For whatever reason I try not to walk under a ladder just incase!

Daniel Parkinson's picture
Daniel Parkinson
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Re: Ladders

Thanks Nessa

It's odd with superstitions, although I know there is no rational behind then I still find myself crossing fingers when I pass someone on the stairs, or wearing a lucky charm before I go on stage, saluting a magpie etc.

I guess this stuff is passed down - my gran was very superstitious.

I did read another theory about the ladder superstition from Funk and Wagnals Dictionary of Folklore, but this was very odd and I will not go into it here.

davidplant's picture
davidplant
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Re: Ladders

Dan,

Hi by the way - long time see not!

My old English teacher always swore by a saying when encountering a single magpie; she use to say:

'Hello Mr. Magpie, and how is your darling wife today?'

She claimed that to see a Magpie alone was bad luck because they pair-off for life and to see one alone means that they've lost their partner! (Bless!)

I did once suggest that the particular magpie might be ugly and a bit of a Billy-no-mate but I was told not to be so stupid! Irony!

davidplant's picture
davidplant
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Re: Ladders

A former teacher once suggested that a ladder-type object was used to hang people from in the middle-ages. Particularly between narrow passages of city streets. I don't know how acurate this information is though; probably not if some of the said teacher's other comments are anything to go by.

It's more likely that the practice of forcing those to be hanged up a ladder was a common practice than hanging them from a ladder.

Personally being a health & safety officer, I agree with the superstition over ladders and the continued notion that walking under ladders is bad luck, even though there is no mention of the superstition in the Working at Height Regulations.

Mysteryshopper
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Joined: 15 Oct 2008
Re: Ladders
davidplant wrote:

She claimed that to see a Magpie alone was bad luck because they pair-off for life and to see one alone means that they've lost their partner! (Bless!)

I did once suggest that the particular magpie might be ugly and a bit of a Billy-no-mate but I was told not to be so stupid! Irony!

According to Birds of the Western Palearctic "(Magpies) Can be either solitary or gregarious throughout year. Outside breeding season, breeding birds may remain as pairs in their territories or abandon them, depending on quality of territory."

So it is pretty random whether you see one or two together.

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Re: Ladders

Tsk, what are teachers telling kids these days.  Magpies mating for life....what next :)

davidplant's picture
davidplant
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Re: Ladders

Perhaps she was thinking of Penguins?  Because of their obvious similarities! Lol!
Just must be aware that this same teacher told the class that Mumps Bridge in Oldham was the longest bridge in the world without legs!

davidplant's picture
davidplant
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Re: Ladders

The teacher was a moron - believe me!

Daniel Parkinson's picture
Daniel Parkinson
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Joined: 22 Jul 2008
Re: Ladders

Hi Dave

Didn't know you were a H&S officer - I once did a H&S course at work called Ladder Awareness - I was half expecting a course on sentient ladders, and how not to hurt their feelings :-)

The course was pure sh**e by the way.

Urisk's picture
Urisk
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Joined: 15 Oct 2008
Re: Ladders

Yes well Standard Grade Biology still teaches kids that squirrels hibernate for the winter. And even when I was sitting my Standard Grades I got into a heap load of trouble for writing in an essay that holly trees are one of the few plants that have single-sex plants.

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