Keep Your Fingers Crossed

Our fingers have many important functions.

They are used for work (like typing on a computer or dialing numbers on a phone).

They are used for play (like kicking a game winning field goal in paper football or making shadow puppets).

They are even used for exercise (thumb wrestling) and communication (sign language).

But are they used for luck?

If your favorite football team is attempting a game winning field goal, you may cross your fingers.

When you tell a friend you will “keep your fingers crossed” for him, you are wishing your pal good luck.

If you really think about it, “fingers crossed” is an odd saying. What does twisting up a part of your body have to do with luck?

And why fingers? What makes them so lucky? If they are so lucky, why do we refer to a lucky rabbit’s foot and not a lucky rabbit’s finger?

Where does the saying “keep your fingers crossed” come from? That is what I am wondering today…

According to Wikipedia, the phrase “fingers crossed” has religious roots.

“In the time of the early Church, Christians would cross their fingers in order to invoke the power associated with the Christian cross for protection, when faced with evil. Moreover, Christians, when persecuted by the Romans, used the symbol of crossed fingers, along with the Ichthys, in order to recognize one another and assemble for worship services. In 16th century England, people continued to cross fingers or make the sign of the cross in order to ward off evil, as well as when people coughed or sneezed.”

I find that very interesting. I had never considered that crossing my fingers was a religious symbol. I had never thought that two fingers intertwined looked anything like a cross.

So it turns out that crossing your fingers has more to do with protection than luck. And more to do with warding off evil than wishing for good.

Maybe the saying isn’t so odd after all.

Wonder Why Wednesday copyClick the image above for more Wonder Why Wednesday posts.

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