Do black cats, bats and witches have you on the run not just at Halloween but year-round? Do you always avoid walking under ladders and stepping on sidewalk cracks?

These behaviors can all be linked to a strong belief that has been embedded in human history — superstitions, according to a Kansas State University professor.

Don Saucier, associate professor of psychology, said superstitions are behaviors that people perform in an attempt to affect or control their future. Superstitious behaviors are a way people think they can control their fate by performing certain tasks in a certain way to either help alleviate anxiety or to simply better their chances in a certain situation.
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What draws us to the darker side? What compels us to look whenever we pass a grisly accident on the highway and drives us to watch horror movies and television coverage of disasters? Eric G. Wilson, a literature professor and a lifelong student of the macabre, set out to discover the source of people’s attraction to the morbid, drawing on the perspectives of biologists, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, philosophers, theologians and artists.
Wilson shares his findings in his latest book Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck. He is the Thomas H. Pritchard Professor of English at Wake Forest University.
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As the economic opportunities of this annual tradition are exploited more with every passing year, Halloween has become a time of feasting, fun-filled frights, and fancy-dressed festivities. According to the Indo-European Etymological Dictionaries, the origins of All Hallows’ Eve are commonly held to date back around two thousand years to a pre-Christian Celtic festival known as Samhain, or "Summer’s End," held to acknowledge the passing of the season of summer and the approach of the dark winter months. Samhain, pronounced sow-en or saw-win, was usually celebrated on 31st October or 1st November.

‘From the earliest records, Samhain is seen not simply as a day for the dead but when the dead might reach out to the living.’
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Halloween, the time when we lure strangely-clad strangers to our homes by lighting lanterns in our windows, and offering them food and welcome at our doors.

This tradition is firmly associated with the celebration of ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night, but does it also fulfil some deep-rooted need in us to just go forth into the darkness of a night lit only by lanterns?

Fire is fast becoming an elusive element in our lives, yet for our ancestors it was a vital part of their existence. After human ancestors controlled fire 400,000 to 1 million years ago, flames not only let them cook food and fend off predators, but also extended their day.
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