Touch Wood‘Touch wood’ is a saying which has remained very popular down through the ages. It goes back to the Middle Ages and originated, of course, from the practice of touching the wood of the Cross, the most prized relic of all.
Many a Catholic would venerate a relic of the Cross before beginning a journey or undertaking a hazardous task or whenever they encountered a severe danger such as the plague. If they couldn’t touch an actual relic of the Cross then any small crucifix would do, such as those attached to a rosary which many people would carry with them.
Today most people are satisfied with touching any piece wood as a substitute and, being ignorant of its spiritual origins, they regard it as a superstition which might help them to avoid something bad happening.
There is another tradition that the wood of the Cross came from the aspen tree, and it is said that this explains why the aspen always trembles.
Father Alex McAllister SDS