It is one of the great human conditions that we have great reverence for the dead. We venerate those who have born and died before use and memorialise their lives in gravestones, burial monuments and tombs. Some of the most powerful imagery from the past of any civilisation is in its monuments to the dead. It is no surprise then that in many cultures it is considered bad luck to step on a grave.
Origins of the Idea of Bad Luck
No satisfactory answer has been provided as to why it is considered bad luck to walk on or step over a grave. However, there are several possibilities. Firstly, we like to think that our deceased loved ones are never truly gone. We visit graves and actively talk to the burial place as though the person is still there, listening to us and providing the strength they provided in life. In this case, it is simply bad manners to disturb their resting place.
A practical reason could be that graves are unstable. Poorer people in ancient times were buried in shrouds. As the body decomposed, the ground became less stable, leading to the possibility of collapse. Stepping on any fresh grave meant disturbing soft soil, meaning a risk of falling in. Either way, you are disturbing the resting place of a deceased person – and that too comes back to pure bad manners.
What Will Happen If You Step on a Grave?
There is no area greater than death with so many superstitions. Graves, graveyards and cemeteries are places of rest and it’s amazing the lengths people go to not to “disturb” the graves. Visit any church graveyard or cemetery and you will notice visitors ensuring they do not step on or walk over any of the graves.
Several reasons have been proposed for the origin of this superstition. One particular story from the American state of Kentucky says that should you walk over or step on a grave, your grandmother will die. However, nobody has stated what will happen if both of your grandmothers have already passed away. Similarly, no living person should enter a funeral vault or they will have bad luck. Presumably, those responsible for placing bodies in there in the first place are exempt.
Walking Over Three Graves
While it is considered bad luck to walk on or step over one grave, a person who does so for three graves in succession will die before the New Year. In some areas of the world, you will soon die if you simply walk over one grave.
Graves and Pregnant Women
It is said that pregnant women in particular risk bad luck when stepping on or walking over a grave. If she is attending a funeral, she must take extra care not to walk on any of the graves. If she does so, her child will be born with clubbed feet.
Can You Protect Yourself Against Bad Luck?
Although many sources speak extensively about the bad luck you will experience for stepping on a grave, few sources speak of solutions or remedies. Most people simply apologise, born out of the belief that the dead are present and listening.