Superstition---it's one of those words that everyone knows and yet struggles to define. Essentially it's an accepted notion not based on "reason, knowledge, or experience". Yet, that limited definition doesn't really do it, does it? It doesn't capture the spirit of the word of the concept. After all, we could apply that to people who form opinions based on bias without really knowing what they are talking about, especially in politics.
No, I think any use of the term needs to include references to the supernatural, to luck and prophecy. After all the word itself means to stand outside the ordinary.
As a writer, using the supernatural allows me a way into a reader's mind. Consider these superstitions about death and tell me if you don't have a slight sense of discomfort. I know some of them are absurd, but don't think about it, let it work at an emotional or affective level.
- The smell of roses when none are present is a harbinger of death.
- If rain is allowed to fall into an open grave, someone in that family will die within a year.
- A bird crashing into a window, or one getting into a house is a sign of death.
- A white moth inside a house is a sign of death.
- A recently dead person appearing in your dreams to hold you is a sign of death.
- If you hear three knocks and no one is there, death is close by.
Of course, it's silly, isn't it?
My superstitions? I never EVER make mention of a possible snow day at school. Even if the weatherman is talking about a foot of snow and a glance outside the window shows me flakes the size of hams, I insist on saying: "Well, I'll see you tomorrow." What's sad, is that my kids at school have taken this on as well. If someone starts to make mention, they'll panic, holding up warning hands and hushing him before he commits a grievous error.