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Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday the thirteenth and other superstitions

Once again, it's that dreaded date, Friday the 13th. On the whole, I can't say I've ever had a particularly awful day on that one, but everybody talks about it. Oddly enough, this superstition isn't all that ancient. Historians can't find any record of it before 1869. However 13 has been considered an unlucky number, and Friday in some cultures is an unlucky day, so perhaps it's just a combination of two older superstitions.

So spilled salt, broken mirrors, umbrellas opened indoors, walking under a ladder and black cats. Can anybody think of any other superstitions for bad luck? What about good luck? Horseshoes, rabbits feet, the number 7, found pennies (although I think that one dates from when finding a penny actually was good luck because you could buy something with it). A lot of athletes seem to have lucky shirts, lucky socks, etc. My husband has been fired twice in the same tie--he'll never wear a tie with ducks on it again.

Have you used superstitions or read about them in books? As an author, I do like to play around with expectations, and it's occurred to me to write a book where all the bad luck superstitions bring good things to the character and her lucky horseshoe falls on her toes. Meanwhile, I do think it's fun to read up on the folklore behind them.

Hope everyone has a lucky 13th!


Adele Dubois said...

My grandmother came from Europe and was very superstitious. She'd give us dire warnings about things like setting shoes on a table, walking under a ladder, or opening an umbrella in the house. She said that brought bad luck.

Even as a child I realized that putting one's shoes on a table was unsanitary. Catching germs would certainly be unlucky if you sat in that spot to eat!


jean hart stewart said...

I've written a couple of blogs about my grandmother and her supersitions. One she strictly enforced was if you are walking and each walk on a different side of a barrier, when you rejoin you MUST both say, 'bread and butter,' so you'll not stay separated. Love knowing other superstitions...Jean

Janice Seagraves said...

My grandfather was superstitious. If a black cat crossed the street in front of him, he's drive a mile around that street to avoid it. I split the salt in front of him once, and he made me throw a pinch of it over my shoulder to avoid bad luck.

My mom told me about the bread and butter thing, but with her it was a joke. When we's take a walk and had to walk with a light post, car or something else got between us, she'd say, "Bread and butter" and laugh.

My husband was only fired once and it was Friday the thirteenth. Since then he gets upset when the thirteen falls on a Friday.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

I've never heard of the bread and butter one. Thanks for sharing. I love hearing about the different folk traditions.

LKF said...

I also never heard of bread and butter, sounds cute. My big superstition is never pick a penny up when it is tails. The one picking it up will have bad luck. Pretty silly but I still catch myself at home kicking it over before I pick it up.
Loved your post, thanks.

Molly Daniels said...

I guess I'm unique; mine my dad's first name both begin with 'M' which is the 13th letter of the alphabet. Additionally, my maiden name begins with 'M'.

Parents bought a house when I was 5, and the address was 6313....and if you add the numbers together, you get...13.

Some of the happiest days of my life occurred on Friday the 13th; the one time everything BAD happened was the year I woke up and thought, 'OK...13 bad things will happen today.' (Not just 13; let's just say it was a BAD day.)

And one more dad likes to go to the shooting range and consistantly guessed it...13.

So it's become my 'good luck' number:)

Never heard of the 'B&B' thing, but the spouse gets upset if salt is spilled, and immediately tosses some over his shoulder.

I've had black cats (and dogs, lol) for years, and never once avoided any of them on this date:)

Cara Marsi said...

I'm not too superstitious. My mother always told us it was bad luck to open an umbrella indoors. I try never to do that. But that's about my only superstition. I have a black cat and she's wonderful. I get upset that black cats are given such a bad rap.

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