Superstitious Cities

Superstitious Cities

Everyone likes a bit of luck, be it for your weekend sports teams, the lottery, online slots, or even just the roll of the dice in a game of Monopoly. But what things do people do and avoid when it comes to luck, and where are people the most superstitious?

Through a national survey of 2,000 Brits, the team at Genting Casino has revealed the most superstitious cities in the UK and the most common superstitions held by the British public.

How superstitious is the UK?

Our survey revealed that over two-thirds (67.4%) of the UK population believe in superstitions. Women were more likely to believe in superstitions at over seven in ten (72.0%), while six in ten (61.2%) of men reported that they did.

With the UK population standing at just shy of 68 million, our data suggests that 45.8 million people in the UK believe in superstitions.

Superstitious UK Population

Younger people tend to be more likely to believe in superstitions. Those aged between 25 and 34 were the most likely, at eight in ten (80.5%), followed by those aged between 18 and 24 at over three quarters (78.8%). Those over 65 were the least likely to believe in superstitions, but over half of them, 56.0%, still do.

This suggests that Gen Z (born between 1997 – 2012) and Millennials (1981 – 1996) are the most likely generations to believe in superstitions, with Boomers (1955 – 1964) the least likely.

Superstitious UK Population Age

The most superstitious cities in the UK

Most Superstitious Cities UK

1. Belfast - 76.9%

Those living in Belfast were the most likely to believe in superstitions. Our survey shows over three-quarters of people in Belfast believed in superstitions. The most common superstition held in Belfast was that the number 13 is unlucky. Two-fifths (40%) of people in Belfast believe 13 is unlucky.

The belief that the number 13 is unlucky is so widespread in Western culture that most US and UK companies don't use it. This includes no number 13 airline row, no number 13 floor in skyscrapers, and no 13th deck on cruise ships. 

2. Manchester - 75.3%

Close behind Belfast is Manchester, where three-quarters (75.3%) of Mancunians believe in superstitions. The most common superstition in Manchester is that opening an umbrella indoors brings bad luck. Over a third (36%) of Mancunians think you shouldn’t open an umbrella indoors. 

Opening an umbrella indoors is likely considered bad luck due to the original design of the umbrella when it was first invented. The frame relied on hard metal spokes that would spring open. Umbrellas were either tightly closed or sprung into action, often with such force that they could put out an eye. Today’s superstition may have developed from a real risk of injury when opening an umbrella indoors in the past. 

3. Birmingham - 71.2%

Birmingham ranks among the top three most superstitious cities, where 71.2% of inhabitants believe in superstitions. Walking beneath a ladder bringing bad luck is the most common superstition in Birmingham, where almost four in ten (39.6%) of people think it is unlucky. 

There is a practical reason behind not walking underneath ladders: there’s always a chance something might fall on your head. Nor do you want to risk knocking someone down. Walking underneath ladders is unsafe as the chances are someone's standing on it and working.

Superstition Tally

The most common superstitions in the UK

Most Common Superstitions UK

1. Breaking a mirror brings bad luck - 39.2%

Looking at the country in general, the most common superstition reported was that breaking a mirror brings bad luck. Almost two-fifths of people in the UK believe this superstition, the most common superstition in Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Norwich, Sheffield, and Southampton.

The ancient Greeks believed it was unlucky to see your own reflection, and the Romans considered mirrors highly prized possessions, which may explain why breaking a mirror was such bad luck. An explanation for the seven years of bad luck often associated with breaking a mirror is that the cost of a new mirror could equal seven years of a servant’s work, should that servant be unlucky enough to break a mirror. 

2. Walking beneath a ladder brings bad luck - 36.9%

Walking beneath a ladder bringing bad luck is the UK's second most commonly held superstition, with over a third of Brits believing in it. Walking beneath a ladder brings bad luck is the most common superstition in Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, and Nottingham.

The superstition that walking underneath ladders is unlucky may have arisen during 1600s England. To some, a ladder leaning against a wall reminds them of a gallows. Ladders were often used in this fashion (propped up against the gallows) to allow a person being hanged to climb up and reach the rope. Not very lucky if you are the one walking under the ladder. 

3. Opening an umbrella indoors brings bad luck - 34.7%

The third most common superstition in the UK is that opening an umbrella indoors brings bad luck. Around 1 in 3 people across the UK believe this superstition, which is the most commonly held superstition in Bristol and Manchester.

An alternative explanation of this superstition dates back to the Egyptians. Ancient Egyptians primarily used umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun and not the rain, unlike here in the UK. Egyptians are said to have believed opening umbrellas indoors was disrespectful to the sun god.

Most common superstitions by city

Most Common Superstitions City

Belfast

The number 13 is unlucky - 40.0%

Birmingham

Walking beneath a ladder brings bad luck  - 39.6%

Bristol

Opening an umbrella indoors brings bad luck  - 43.2%

Cardiff

Walking beneath a ladder brings bad luck  - 53.8%

Edinburgh

Walking beneath a ladder brings bad luck  - 50.0%

Glasgow

Walking beneath a ladder brings bad luck  - 45.6%

Leeds

Breaking a mirror brings bad luck  - 56.4%

Liverpool

Breaking a mirror brings bad luck  - 49.3%

London

Walking beneath a ladder brings bad luck  - 32.1%

Manchester

Opening an umbrella indoors brings bad luck  - 36.0%

Newcastle

Breaking a mirror brings bad luck  - 45.5%

Norwich

​​Breaking a mirror brings bad luck  - 55.6%

Nottingham

Walking beneath a ladder brings bad luck  - 37.4%

Sheffield

Breaking a mirror brings bad luck  - 54.5%

Southampton

Breaking a mirror brings bad luck  - 55.6%

Most common superstitions by age

Most Common Superstitions Age

18 - 24

Friday the 13th is an unlucky day and Breaking a mirror brings bad luck - 33.3%

25 - 34

Opening an umbrella indoors brings bad luck - 33.0%

35 - 44

Breaking a mirror brings bad luck - 32.7%

45 - 54

Breaking a mirror brings bad luck - 49.3%

55 - 64

Breaking a mirror brings bad luck - 55.6%

65+

Walking beneath a ladder brings bad luck - 52.2%

Methodology

We surveyed 2,000 Brits (1,150 women and 848 men), asking the following questions: 

  • Do you believe in superstitions?
  • What superstitions do you believe in? (Select all that apply)


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