Thursday, April 16, 2009

Origins: Knock on Wood

"Knock on wood."

Funny how a phrase is thought to hold so much power, not only over us, but over fate itself. As if uttering these three simple words can keep the worst from happening. I know I fall into the magic of KoW when I am trying to catch a flight or get somewhere on time. Or during my college days, after a really hard final. One wonders how would have history played out if only these words were said.

Would the the lovable Trix Rabbit been able to get his hands on the cereal if he had used the power of KoW ? Instead, after many, many failures had had to resort to a more drastic approach. In 2001 August 24th, Trix finally snapped when Toucan Sam called him, "silly." Unveiling a hidden butchers knife he grabbed the bird, threw him in the car and took him to an abandoned cereal factory. He held the parrot hostage for 93 hours before he finally surrendered. He pleaded not guilty due to insanity, but the court found him guilty of attempted bird-slaughter, which put him in jail for 5 years. He got out in 2 and half years for good behavior and now has a position with a magician in Mexico. To this day he has yet to receive his beloved cereal; to this day no one ever heard him say, "knock on wood." Coincidence?

But this isn't about Trix. This goes beyond that. Where did this phrase originate? Through some extensive research I found that 84% of people in the United States use the power of KoW.* With that many people using the phrase, how can one not but help think, "Where did this come from?"

Taken from Wikipedia
It is commonly thought that knocking on wood has been a superstitious action to ward off evil throughout history involving Pagan belief systems.[1] The same reference claims that knocking on wood is also used in some form of Christianity, but in a different context, where the wood represents the cross. In an alternate explanation, the wood represents the rosary. [2]

Another explanation for this practice is the pagan belief that spirits (dryads) lived in trees.[3]By knocking on the wood of a tree while making some sort of a bold statement, the speaker could prevent the spirit from hearing him and stop the spirit from interfering[citation needed] or out of respect for the wood spirit, touching a tree indicated seeking protection from the particular spirit.[1]

However historian Steve Roud[4] finds no evidence in the British Isles for the earlier theories, suggesting that the superstitions have not been traced beyond children's games of tag of the early nineteenth century. According to Roud, the earliest documented references to "touching wood" are from 1805 and 1828 and concern chasing games like "Tiggy-touch-wood", where you are safe from being "tagged" if you "touch wood", says Roud, "'Tiggy-touch-wood" was an extremely well-known game, and it is more than likely that the phrase was passed into everyday language.

Well folks, its a sunny day outside and I am off to play some Tiggy-touch-wood with the pup.

Stay Kosher,

*Percentage supplied by WRBS.** Critics argue that the WRBS does not gather its statistics properly. In fact most say that they simply pick a number out of a hat.

**White Russian Bullshit Society


xoxolena said...

Wow... very educational. Never have I pondered the meaning of knock on wood... but now I'm going to wonder of the origins of other popular phrases, like 'Take With A Grain Of Salt'... I don't like salt :(

Anonymous said...

Hahaha Oh My gosh!! I say that all the time!! Oops! :P
-I loved the story of the Trix Rabbit. Very cute! That picture was pretty insane too LOL.


ncchapman said...

I thought the grain of salt came from shots of tequila?

I question the saying.. you can't have your cake and eat it too.. I thought that came from weddings because you're doing so many things, saying hi, people congratulating you that you don't have time to eat your cake...

And lol, touch wood that's what she said.

xoxolena said...

@ncchapman ahaha, i forgot about that one ('you can't have your cke and eat it too') I never understood it, if I get cake, best believe I eating that shit! I love cake.

Sorry White Russian, for using your comments as a forum of some sort

silentxcollapse said...

I was eating some trix out of a plastic baggy last week at my desk at work. My co-worker who is 24 asked me what kind of cereal it was. I told her what it was and how I missed when the cereal came in the shape of fruits. She looked at me confused and said she'd never heard of trix. I looked at her dumbfounded and pulled out the famous line for the cereal and crickets. It's sad to know that I live in a world where there are still people who don't know about the wonder that is Trix cereal.


irishrose38pa said...

i needed a good laugh after a crappy night at work..and i knew that the white russian could provide.. thanks for sharing..and in case ant one wants to look up something else that is a daily thing..look up the origins of the kids' game 'ring around the rosies'

Dru said...

I nearly peed myself laughing about the Trix Rabbit and Toucan Sam. So has Sam been through some major therapy since the incident or what?

Alyssia Garber said...

That was extremely entertaining Serg, thanks for that, helped my night/morning, maybe now I will be able to get some sleep. :) Loved the pics.

Stay awesome, and keep up with the awesome photography! :) :)

Charyl said...

We now know what Sergey is doing with his newly found free-time! (*knock on wood*)


The newest member of WRBAS.

(*White Russian Bullshit Appreciation Society)

Doolz said...

Touching wood. That's almost as funny as the history of the Trix rabbit.

The weather's lovely today! Go enjoy it!

lin said...

In Italy, instead of KoW, it is "touch Iron." There was plenty of that the last time Debs and I were there to see our friends and hang out with the studly Italian soccer plaers (yeaaaaah, Baby!). We always saw people reaching for anything metal---door hinges, metal tables, ornate wrought iron deco frames, etc.)---especially when they were playing the Lottery over there. Thanks for the lesson, Serg, and the Trix Rabbit story made me smile. Proof positive that not only do you have one wicked imagination but a killer sense of humour. Which we already knew...but anyhow, we have a yard to mulch and some plants to plant and my pup will be here soon for a walk to the lakeside, sooooo...stay cool.

Anonymous said...

Another member of WRBAS! Since I've discovered your blog I've made a habit of checking in daily. I love learning about the origins of odd sayings. Like: "raining cats and dogs" or "don't throw the baby out with the bath water". This one was great!

When do we get to see more Photos?

Debs said...

Love your blogs, Sergmeister, and I'm also going to take a guess that we're seeing the birth of another inside joke.

Here's a few links to keep you busy:

Your blog reminds me that I have an old book at school about idioms; in fact I think the name of it is Horse Feathers. When I get back from vacay, I'll have to look thru it and see if I can find you some interesting phrases to start throwing around.

Well, yes, as Lin said, we do have some mulching to do--I worked for nearly 2 hours yesterday and got the front of the house done. Onwards...


cindy said...

that trix bunny story was funny, thanks for sharing..

since people are posting lines of phrases..
there two that I heard alot..

wish in one hand and crap in the other and see which one fill up fastest..

turn around and pull your head out of your rear..

oh and..

you couldn't pour pee out of a boot..

cindy said...

Ooops forgot one..

Escuse is like rear holes everyone got one..

Lyssaboo said...

I lol'd at a comment.. which is terribly true!
" xoxolena said...
@ncchapman ahaha, i forgot about that one ('you can't have your cke and eat it too') I never understood it, if I get cake, best believe I eating that shit! I love cake.

Sorry White Russian, for using your comments as a forum of some sort"

But anyway, "knock on wood" is pretty effective to me as well... even though I think superstitious people are crazy, and well, superstitious :D

Anonymous said...

I think you are so handsome and funny!!! Any woman would be so lucky to have you!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I think you are so handsome and funny!!! Any woman would be so lucky to have you!!



Wow, that made me think...which is hard when i'm already thinking about how much chem homework I have to do tonight and a maths assingment due in on Monday. -dies-

Great blog, hope you have fun and don't get many splinters.


Nikita said...

i never thought that rabbit was missing out on much… I never was a fan of Trix, though I always loved how bright the colours looked when contrasted against the milk. lol
KoW... i never thought about how many people actually use that phrase. When i say it, and there is no wood around, i will hunt for some to knock on; oddly enough it seems to ease my conscience.

Brit said...

...what other acronyms could you have used?

Serg, I have to ask. What in the world made you come to this conclusion about "KoW?"
Let alone the story about the Trix Rabbit and Toucan Sam...

ncchapman said...

How come sometimes you kick the spirits out of the house and sometimes you let them stay? Doesn't everyone deserve to go to their afterlife? I'd hate to be stuck in between.

This is just something I was pondering as I had my paranormal state marathon in bed today while I was sick.

Erica said...

Oh Serg. lol.

Anonymous said...

I carry a small piece of wood in my purse for this very purpose.

Susie said...

Here's my theory, I think Mr. Trix Rabbit got whacked by the wood instead of knocking ON wood. Would've helped him in the long run.

Besides that silly Sergey, trixs are for kids! Don'cha know? ;p Thanks for the 411 on kow.

Anonymous said...