13 superstitions you should know about before Friday the 13th!
If you have even one superstitious bone in your body, then you’re probably already making plans for Friday the 13th. If you’re constructing an air-raid shelter in your back yard or planning to spend the afternoon hiding under a duvet, then you’re not alone. Fear of Friday the 13th is such a common phobia that there is even a word to describe it: friggatriskaidekaphobia.
You might not be able to skip this ‘unlucky’ date (or ever remember the name for the phobia), but at least you can cross your fingers and lighten your mood with these 13 fun superstitions you should know about before Friday the 13th!
1. Crossing paths with a black cat
Ok, so we’ve seen enough cat memes on Facebook to know that not all black cats are evil! In fact, the ancient Egyptians used to hold them in the highest esteem (and this was in the days before YouTube). But in some cultures, it’s considered bad luck to cross paths with a black cat. The reasoning behind this is probably due to the old belief that witches can take the form of animals.
2. Walking under ladders
This urban myth was probably started by a tired mom warning her kids about the dangers of walking under ladders (at least, that’s our theory)! Another explanation is that it has something to do with walking through the ‘triangle’ shape, which represents the Holy Trinity in Christianity. In any case, give ladders a wide berth for the sake of good luck (window cleaners will thank you).
3. Opening an umbrella inside
This superstition is to do with bad luck ‘raining’ on you if you open an umbrella indoors. One explanation is that this belief dates back to a time when umbrellas were used as protection from the sun. To open one inside was a risky move that might anger sun god. These days, most of us consider it even worse luck to forget your umbrella altogether and get caught in the rain!
4. Breaking a mirror is seven years of bad luck
Sure, a broken mirror is a health and safety nightmare, not to mention a disaster for your morning beauty routine, but there’s another reason why it’s considered bad luck. It was once thought that mirrors were soul-sucking items and that breaking one released these trapped souls. If you’re accident-prone and happen to crack one, then some say it causes seven years of back luck.
5. A few numbers to avoid
Along with those blocked contacts in your phone book, there are a couple of other numbers you might want to avoid. In some cultures, the number 666 is considered to be the mark of the devil, while the number 13 is also seen as unlucky – some architects still avoid building stairs that end on the 13th step, and it’s not uncommon to see the number missing on airline seats!
6. Pass the salt (but don’t spill it)
Tipping over the salt might be considered bad luck, but there’s an easy fix; throw a pinch over your left shoulder! This old superstition probably dates back to a time when salt was an expensive commodity, and it was wasteful to spill it, but some believe its origin is linked to Judas knocking over the salt at the Last Supper. Da Vinci even depicts this scene in his famous painting.
7. Sweeping the floor with a new broom
You could write a book on broom-related superstitions alone! The classic mode of transport for witches, brooms also crop up in other superstitions. One such belief is that you should never sweep dirt out of a new house unless you sweep something in first. This supposedly stops you sweeping out your good luck. It’s also a handy excuse for avoiding chores after moving house.
8. Look out for the crows
There are so many craft activities to choose from to keep creative kids entertained. If you’re musical or artistic, then you could spend your time showing them how to play a new instrument or get messy and start painting! If they’re more into crafts, then it can also be fuIt’s no coincidence that the collective noun for these ominous birds is a ‘murder of crows’. If you’ve seen the Hitchcock film, The Birds, this should be warning enough. But even if you’re not a film buff, there’s a superstition that the number of crows you see at any one time can predict your future – one’s bad, two’s luck, three’s health, four’s wealth, five’s sickness, six’s death!
9. Don’t chew gum at night
Ok, so this is a weird one, and we’re not even sure if it’s true. According to Harry Oliver, author of Black Cats and Four Leaf Clovers, there is a Turkish superstition around people chewing gum at night – apparently, the locals might mistakenly believe that you are actually literally the flesh of the dead. Either way, it’s probably better to leave the Juicy Fruit at home and pack mouthwash instead!
10. Leave your gloves at home
Even if it’s the coldest Friday 13th in history, you might want to consider leaving your gloves at home rather than risking bad luck. Gloves are associated with many superstitions, mostly relating to Medieval chivalry. Knights used to wear a lady’s glove in their helmets for good luck. But dropping one on the floor and picking it up yourself is considered back luck; a belief that stems from the image of a suitor picking up a glove for a lady.
11. Swap the salad for take-out
Every cloud has a silver lining, and this one is the hidden benefit of Friday 13th. According to The Oxford Dictionary of Superstitions, people in the 19th century considered lettuce to be detrimental to childbearing because it is a sterile plant. Even with science debunking this myth, we think parents should support each other in skipping the salad and ordering a good luck take-out!
12. Sneezing before you go out
In English-speaking cultures, it’s common to hear someone say ‘bless you’ after a sneeze, which is a prayer that your heart doesn’t fail (a belief dating back to Renaissance times) or that you won’t catch the plague (which spread in the 14th century). In many other countries, such as China and Japan, it’s said to be a sign that someone is talking about you behind your back. Our advice: take a packet of tissues and some antihistamines with you.
13. Knock wood!
Most of these superstitions are warnings that cause bad luck. But what proactive things can we do to survive Friday the 13th unscathed? Knocking on wood is a useful one to remember, as it’s said to ward off bad luck after tempting fate. Other good luck myths include a bird pooping on your head, or carrying around old rabbit feet and various talismans and charms. Our personal favourite is the Spanish superstition of warding off bad luck by eating 12 grapes at midnight - happy midnight snack!