Although some pensioners may think of superstition as an iconic Stevie Wonder song of the seventies, it is in fact a set of deep-rooted but unfounded beliefs which are used to justify or excuse a wide range of actions.

Superstitions really rose to prominence in the middle ages, when the uneducated serfs began to think there was something unlucky about being struck down by the plague, and by the time Queen Victoria came to the throne, there were superstitions relating to almost every aspect of life.

Even today, a surprisingly high number of superstitions still exist, and while the majority are harmless and sometimes reassuring, some can undoubtedly be insidious and pernicious, such as keeping all your shoes in a bucket, never eating flapjacks in a balloon and believing in God.

Among the more surprising adherents of superstition are Ed Miliband, who always has rabbit’s foot and four-leaf clover sandwiches for lunch, Stephen Hawking, who never steps on cracks in the pavement and Rupert Murdoch, who has appointed an executive with global responsibility for black cats.

In 2013, 83-year-old Enid Auberglade of Ripon was identified as the UK’s most superstitious person, having refused to walk under horseshoes since she was four and never opened an umbrella while passing a salt-throwing person on the stairs in front of a cracked mirror. She died on Friday 13th December 2013 when choking on a large piece of garlic which she had hoped would ward off vampires and evil spirits.