Why is it bad luck if you break a mirror?

The superstitious among us will know that smashing a mirror is one of the worst things you can do. Not only does it mean you're a mirror down, but it's also said to bring seven years bad luck, that's a long time for such a curse, imagine how many buses you'd miss!

So, we thought we'd find out where the superstition comes from and just how much truth is in it... 

The glass mirror was first invented by the Romans, who along with the Greek, Chinese, African and Indian cultures, believed that a mirror had the power to take away part of a persons soul. Therefore if the image in a mirror became distorted somehow their soul would become corrupt. If the image was distorted due to the mirror itself being broken the situation got even worse! The persons soul would become trapped in the world that the mirror represented. So, a broken mirror, led to a broken soul which led to broken health and happiness...that all makes sense right?

As mirrors inevitably do break there are a number of rituals which can be done in order to reverse the spell of bad luck. As the fragments of a broken mirror still actually reflect a person, and their corrupted soul, you could ground all the pieces into dust...no reflection, no problem! Another option is to bury all the fragments under a tree at full moon or alternatively you could do as the Africans did and wash away the bad luck by putting the broken mirror into southward flowing stream. You'll just have to pick the most convenient option for you!

Joking and superstition aside though, breaking a mirror is a dangerous thing. Often they shatter into thousands of tiny pieces and if you don't quite get them all the next person to go past barefoot will get a shock, and a rather nasty cut. Ensuring wall mirrors are safely secured is paramount, you should make sure the wall and plaster can comfortably take the weight of the mirror and that if it's in a place where it'll get knocked often it's not going to be easily ripped off the wall.

For free standing mirrors a smooth surface which is big enough to support the whole of the base is needed. If small children are likely to reach for it or pick it up, think about using some tack or an adhesive sticker to secure it in place.

If the worst does happen there are a few things you should do, firstly if there is still some mirror left in the frame tape it up, this will avoid even more fragments ending up on the floor. Make sure you have something on your feet and hands before starting to pick up the larger fragments and you have a cardboard box to put them in. Once the larger pieces have been picked up use a brush to clear away the rest and then give the whole area a hoover to make doubly sure. It's surprising how far a fragments can travel so keep an eye out and advise everyone in the house not to go barefoot for a few days until you're certain that it's all gone.

4 June 2013
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