Every country has its share of the odd beliefs that we call superstitions. And of all the subjects that superstitions have been built around， the most outstanding is salt.
The properties of salt have puzzled people everywhere. Today we know its chemical nature. We know why salt can help to thaw snow or to freeze ice cream. But early man did not have this knowledge. He looked on salt as magic. As magic， it had the power to do good or evil.
Man probably first noticed salt when he saw animals near a salt lick. When he tried some， it tasted good. Then he found out that salt could keep food from spoiling. He began to imagine that it could protect him as well. He valued salt for both its magical and its chemical properties.
In those days salt was scarce in some places. It was too precious to be wasted. So there was a sensible reason for being careful not to spill salt. Spilling salt was indeed an unlucky accident.
Superstition gave another meaning to the same accident. Early man was sure that the good spirit guarding him had caused him to spill the salt. It was a warning of evil near him. Good spirits were thought to live on the right side of the body； bad spirits were on the left. So early man threw a pinch of salt over his left shoulder. The salt was a bribe to the spirits that planned to harm him.
To many people， spilling salt meant sadness. This superstition arose because tears are salty. An old belief in Norway is that enough tears must be shed to dissolve the salt that is spilled. And there is an old saying， “Help me to salt， help me to sorrow.”
Faith in the magic of salt explains another old belief. People thought it was easy to catch a bird if its tail feathers were salted. Not long ago a report seemed to show there was some truth in this belief. Birds flying close enough to the Great Salt Lake in the United States were said to be easily captured. But the cause is not the magic power of salt. It is the weight of salt on their wings that keeps the birds from flying away.
The properties of salt gave rise to other beliefs about it . Salt itself lasts， it helps to preserve food. So men thought it was much like friendship.
Many old customs link salt with friendship. Salt is often given as a present to a friend in his new home. In ancient Greece， a stranger was welcomed by having a pinch of salt placed in his right hand. In the East， salt was put in front of strangers as a pledge of goodwill. In Hungary， people sprinkle the threshold of a new house with salt. When this is done， no witch or evil thing will enter the house.
We know today that salt is needed for good health. In Ancient times the Greeks and Romans thought that the salt in seawater made the water pure. So they worshipped a goddess of salt. She was the goddess of health. In her name， salt was placed on the tongue of a child at birth. This act was thought to make sure of long life， good health， and protection for him. The custom is still followed in some places. Old beliefs about salt have not all disappeared， and some “salty” words and expressions are still part of our speech. The word salary has come to us from times when salt was scarce. Roman soldiers， officials， and working people were often paid with salt. That pay was called salarium， which came from the word for salt， sal. Salarium meant salt money. We also use the expression “He’s not worth his salt. ” To praise a person， we might say： “He’s the salt of the earth.”
Most people today do not allow superstitions to rule their actions. We know that these very old beliefs are not likely to be based on facts. But they show that early man， like man today， was trying to understand the world about him.
56.Early man looked on salt as magic because _________.
A.he was fond of its unusual good taste
B.he was ignorant of its chemical properties
C.he discovered seawater was salty
D.he discovered its deposits were rich
57.After spilling salt， a superstitious person would ________.
A.wash the spilled salt away
B.eat the spilled salt up
C.throw a pinch of salt over the left shoulder
D.throw a pinch of salt over the right shoulder
58.Birds near the Great Salt Lake are easily caught. This _________.
A.confirms that salt is precious
B.proves that an old superstition is true
C.is because of the salt they have taken in
D.is due to the salt weight on their wings
59.Strangers who received salt from their hosts ________.
A.felt that they were safe B.kept the present for good
C.seasoned their food with it D.sprinkled the threshold with it
60.A person said to be the “salt of the earth” is ________.
A.highly thought of B.not worth his salary
C.healthy and energetic D.ruled by superstitions