The Reason People Think Breaking A Mirror Is Bad Luck

Superstitions. Today, we see them as the zany affectations of those friends who won't stop telling us how Mercury is affecting our love lives, but to some, they're the guiding force in day-to-day activities. Salt cannot be spilled. Ladders demand a careful sidestep. Cracks must not be trodden upon, lest the chiropractic health of one's sainted mother be thrown into disarray.

And of course, a broken mirror leads, inevitably, to seven years of bad luck. It's just one of those things that you hear one time when you're a kid and it sticks with you for the rest of your life. Like just about every other hackneyed folkloric truism, this one has a long history. It's even rooted in ancient Roman tradition, with toga-clad dudes of yore apparently holding some strong opinions on the subject of cracked reflective surfaces portending ill fate, which of course begs the question "just how many mirrors got broken in Pompeii, anyway?"

It reflects badly on all of us

The story goes like this: according to Snopes, mirrors held significance back in the day not just as a way to more accurately pinch your own zits into submission, but as a "portal to the soul." Vague? Yes, but ominous nonetheless. The idea was that damaging a mirror could also damage the spirit of the person reflected therein, with more in-depth superstitions claiming that the bruised essence of the victim would no longer be able to effectively ward off incoming threats of a supernatural nature.

As for the "seven years" part, that likely comes to us courtesy of ancient Romans, who held the belief that "life renewed itself every seven years." When a soul was damaged, it would take an entire life cycle to undo the harm.

Never fear, though, as there are a number of ways to combat your otherwise pessimistically cemented destiny. Traditionally, the seven year sentence can be commuted by throwing salt over your shoulder, burning the broken shards and burying them, or putting the fragmented mirror bits into a running river. You could also always just buy another mirror, but that's less about beating fate and more about making sure you look presentable.