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Origin and Meaning of 'Crossed Fingers'

How often have we lied and kept our fingers crossed hoping we will not be caught out on the lie? Many people lie through their teeth to ghttp://usacademy.collegenet.com/magnoliaPublic/preview/preview-learn/culture/American-Expressions-and-American-Culture/american-language/c/fingers-crossed.htmlet out of a tight situation or merely to get something they want. They are perfectly aware that they are not stating the truth and that it is very possible that they may be caught out on the lie, but still go ahead and do so all the time hoping that their bluff will not be called.

Many believe that the gesture was started during the time of Jesus and persecution of Christians, to help one believer recognize another. Two crossed fingers held up, helped the flock to stay connected and perhaps to assemble for services. Many Christians also believe that the sign of the crossed finger is powerful enough to save them from being consigned to hell for a white lie that they may speak. They also believe that the gesture will invalidate the lie they are saying and absolve hem of the consequences of lying. Many Christians believe that crossing the fingers bestows on them the power of protection associated with the Christian cross in the face of evil.

Many petty meanings have also been associated with the sign. For example, if one walked under a ladder, it attracted evil. This evil could be warded off if the fingers were kept crossed. The fingers could be uncrossed only upon seeing a dog. There are many theories as to the origin and the meaning of the gesture and while some of it can be attributed to research, a lot of it is actually guess work and word of mouth.

Some credit the practice to even the pre-Christian era, when people crossed fingers merely because they believed that good spirits resided in the spaces between the cross, the space in the intersection of the cross. While normally the gesture is done by placing one’s middle finger over the index finger, it can also be done by crossing one’s index finger with the index finger of another person. It is said that their wishes will then come true.

There seems to be some truth in the theory that the practice originated with Christian groups using the sign as a means of recognizing each other, given the fact that the practice is widely prevalent in countries where Christianity is widely practiced. It is not so popular in other countries where other religions are predominant. This is not to say that other countries do not use the gesture, but it appears to have been handed down to them from Christian countries and has been adopted as a part of westernisation.

Crossing fingers was in its infancy - a two person affair requiring the crossing of the index fingers of the two individuals, but later it evolved into a one person only gesture. Whatever be the truth, never forget to cross your finger while uttering a white lie, lest you may be caught out on it.

Rebecca Marshall (have 32 posts in total)

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