Touch wood/iron

Re a reference@Amando de Miguel: that the expressions are interchangeable (“Capulino frotó suavemente el respaldo de una silla; acarició después el metal de un llavero, por expresa recomendación de Juana. Y sonrió.”, or here for the English) suggests that Frazer was wrong to point to iron’s novelty as the source of its taboo status. Intriguingly, in Spanish you can say tocar madera sin patas, touch wood without legs, suggesting that it must be unworked to some degree (although it is also said that, apart from cancer, (wooden) pipe smoking brings luck). Ferrum, on the other hand, is rarely touched without prior metallurgical intervention of some nature. Crosses, boats and other useful items tended to be made of wood or iron, but I have never seen a drowning man turn away from a fibreglass hull.

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