Do You Cross Your Fingers

When you tell a lie?

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Ayla Faullin

It’s something we’ve done on the playground since we were children. We’d cross our fingers whether to get out of something or to excuse a white lie. And even as we’ve gotten older, we use it as a wish, saying things like, “Keep your fingers crossed.” Crossing fingers is a symbol of good luck that we know instinctively. But where did this old tradition come from? The history is debated about this luck charm, but there are two main theories. 

The first theory dates back to pre-Christianic times and the symbolism of a cross in Pagan religions. In Pagan religions, the cross symbolizes unity, and benign spirits dwell in the center. When a wish or a hope is made on the cross, it is anchored at the intersection until it can be granted. 

Initially, making a good luck cross took two people. A good friend or well-wisher will put one index finger across the person making the wish, forming a cross. Over the years, it has been simplified to make wishes on your own by creating an X with your index and middle fingers. 

The other popular theory about the origins of finger-crossing comes from Christian practices. Christians hold the cross in sacred reverence and may have used it to protect themselves from God’s wrath when they disobeyed a commandment. This may be where the use of crossing fingers to excuse lies originated. In times of persecution, Christians often had to lie about being Christian and may have used their fingers crossed to plea to God to forgive them. Over the years, this has evolved to cover white lies or excuse breaking promises on the playground. 

Wherever crossing fingers originated from, it is undoubtedly an interesting custom that we seem to understand without doubt from a very young age. Whenever you cross your fingers, you can remember this tradition’s extensive and fascinating history.