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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: June ::
Re: Knocking on Wood
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1282  Wednesday, 25 June 2003

From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Tuesday, 24 Jun 2003 14:01:18 -0400
Subject: 14.1275 Knocking on Wood
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1275 Knocking on Wood

Harvey Roy Greenberg writes in part:

>Was struck today by patient telling me that the practice of knocking on
>wood was Christianity originated, the wood in question being the cross.
>I somehow thought the practice was much older. . . .

I think your patient is misinformed, Harvey (and your memory is
excellent).  The practice of knocking on wood goes back to the ancient
Greeks, who believed that hamadryads (spirits) lived inside the trees.
When one was in danger, he or she knocked on the tree to wake the
spirits up (so that they would come to the rescue).

It is therefore wholly pagan in origin.

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