soldiergrrrlasked an easy and fun one (thank you!): Do you have any strange superstitious behaviour that you do, almost unconsciously? (When I spill salt, I throw a pinch of it over my shoulder.)
(Those who were slightly more evolutionally advanced also said "hares" the night before, just to make sure.)
I collect superstitions. Rationally, though I know that they do nothing (and, as in the case of spitting if I see a single magpie , are somewhat unsanitary), I feel distinctly uncomfortable if I break one or fail to do the requisite things to ward off whatever dire consequences will result from talking while going under a bridge. I rationalize this behaviour by telling myself that positive thinking helps me to ideate optimistic outcomes for whatever I'm currently worried about, but in truth, I'm just a primitive heathen convinced that my open umbrella indoors will prevent the sun from coming up tomorrow.
I won't walk under ladders. I, too, throw salt over my shoulder (Bob amuses himself occasionally by deliberately spilling salt just to watch me scoop it up and hurl it shoulder-ward, but I love him anyway), and it always has to be the left shoulder. I always put my right shoe on first in the morning. The first butterfly I see every year is of great importance, and to a lesser degree, so is the first one I see every day in spring and summer - a gold/yellow one is good luck, a white one means a quiet year/day, and a brown one is bad (I get around the fact that we have a large colony of spicebush swallowtail butterflies at the farm by telling myself that they're blue, not black).
Besides, they were there to greet us en masse the first time we went to look at the property; they are my good-luck totem, since the farm is perfect, and despite some truly interesting house issues, has been a joy to own. I love my spicebush critters; they are beautiful when they're happily covering the milkweed blossoms in the summer. We also have luna moths, but I don't have a superstition associated with them (yet). I'm sure there are plenty; give me a year or two, and I'll assimilate them all into my pantheon of irrationality.
I keep all sorts of good luck charms and totems - I have an immensely tattered and faded Japanese ornament that was given to me years ago to ensure happiness in my home, and I carry a stone with a natural hole in it in my purse, along with a key on a red ribbon (to ensure love).
All of this is probably due to my slightly OCD nature - I like rituals, and superstitions are nothing if not rituals.
Obsessive, pointless rituals that throw me completely out of whack if I cannot complete them. I've learned to be sneaky over the years, thanks to endless mocking, but I haven't given any of them up. Bob does not mock me; in fact, he often reminds me to say "white rabbits" - if he remembers - because it's important to me. He's sweet.
In the end, I suppose, my superstitious habits give me the barest sense of control over a completely uncontrollable universe - as they have done for my ancestors for thousands of years. And if I have to take the Christmas ornaments down by January 6th, or insist on trying to peel a potato in one long string of peel, don't laugh. You never know if one of them is actually effective. That potato peel may be all that's standing between us and the howling abyss.
Why take the chance?