I do not consider myself to be a superstitious person. I do not immediately think of seven years of bad luck when I see a broken mirror. I am not concerned about... (hmm, what is it?) something negative when someone walks under a ladder. I am not worried about Friday the 13th, black cats, or opening an umbrella in the house.
I do, however, compulsively knock on wood. Whenever I make a statement aloud, or even in my own mind, that acknowledges good fortune I immediately follow it with "knock on wood" and I physically knock gently on some nearby object (although, oddly enough, that object does not literally need to be made of wood to satisfy my compulsion). It isn't, really, that I logically think I need to knock on something to avoid negative consequences. It -is- something more than simple habit though.
I think that, subconsciously, it is a way of acknowledging that I recognize my good fortune and that I am grateful for it and do not take it for granted - only in shorthand. I have to make a deliberate and not insignificant effort to refrain from the motion under circumstances in which it would be inappropriate.
I was thinking about all of this when I recently found myself knocking on the dashboard of the car when having a conversation with the children. To date, they've never asked me why I'm randomly knocking on things in the middle of a conversation but at some point they will ask. I'm not sure how I will answer. I'm not sure it is a habit I wish to pass on.
Do you consider yourself superstitious? What superstitions do you believe in? How do you explain them to your children?