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Knock On Wood

Column: Legends, Lore, Superstitions, and More

Have you ever seen someone knock on wood? Maybe you yourself have knocked on wood. Maybe you only know about knocking on wood because of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ 1997 hit called “The Impression That I Get” which is about knocking on wood. Regardless of where you’ve heard about knocking on wood you might know it is to ward off or undo bad luck. You might have even heard that knocking on wood brings good luck. But why is it commonly believed that knocking on wood is good?

It all started with the Celts. The Celts believed that spirits lived in trees and if you knocked on a tree then you’d be asking for protection from that spirit. Other reasons why the Celts may have knocked on the trunks of trees were to thank the spirits for their good luck, get rid of evil spirits, and to make the luck last longer.

Another place that we might see the knocking on wood originating from is from British children. Many British children would play a form of tag called Tiggy Touchwood. In this game of tag, you couldn’t be tagged if you were touching a tree or piece of wood.

Next time you or someone you know knocks on wood, think about the origins and the people who thought of trees as protectors.

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