Most of us are familiar with the superstition of knocking on wood for good luck. After making a statement about our good fortune or an optimistic prediction, we tap our knuckles on the nearest wooden surface to prevent our luck from turning. In situations where wood is not physically available to ward off misfortune, a verbal expression of “knock on wood” will suffice.
Where does this habit come from? There are a few different explanations at play, although those of us in the pallet industry can’t take credit even with all the wood we have to knock on. Historically, many cultures, especially those with pagan religions, worshipped and had rituals that centered around trees. The Celts of Ireland were one such culture who believed that spirits and gods inhabited in the trees.
The purpose of knocking on wood differed. Some knocked to chase away evil spirits to prevent them from reversing their good luck after a boast. Others would knock to call on the spirits for protection or to show gratitude. Christians would later connect this practice to the wood of the cross.
Another possible source of this superstition is a 19th century children’s playground game called “Tig Touch Wood,” in which players would chase one another and be immune to being caught if they had touched wood. The game itself may also have origins relating back to the ancient pagan rituals of the past.
Today, few relate the habit to these ritualistic sources, but sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry and knock on wood for good luck. In the pallet business, there is no shortage of wood and lumber to knock on. Next time you need to knock away your bad luck, you’ll find plenty of opportunities at Millwood!