Many people “touch wood” to avoid tempting fate, however did you know the Italians “touch iron”?
The tradition of touching or knocking on wood is said to have come from the Pagan belief that trees are inhabited by spirits and deities. By knocking on them you would invoke their protection.
So, why do Italians “touch iron”?
The Italian expression “toccare ferro” is actually an abbreviation of “toccare ferro di cavallo” that means “touch horseshoe”.
In the middle ages, horseshoes were nailed to front doors to keep witches and devils away. This custom developed from a superstition that the devil would not enter a place where a horseshoe was hanging.
Today the horseshoe is still considered as a good luck charm. With the general idea that it avoids anything bad happening, superstitious people always keep a piece of iron at hand.
By Claudia Vinci