Friday 13th

Jan13,2017 #Friday 13th #superstitions

If you haven’t already noticed, today is Friday 13th, the so-called unlucky day which has given its name to slasher movies and leads some people to change their plans for the day.

I’m not very suspicious, although I will occasionally say “touch wood” after saying something good, but I do find superstitions interesting. I did an article on medieval/Tudor superstitions a few years ago – click here – and author Robert Parry also wrote a wonderful article on the subject for the Elizabeth Files – click here – but today I’d like to hear from you about superstitions you’ve read about or superstitions that you or your family have.

Do you avoid ladders? Do you freak out after breaking a mirror? Do you cross your fingers? Do you get cross when someone opens an umbrella inside?

Please do share and share their meaning or origin if you know it too.

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12 thoughts on “Friday 13th”
  1. My mum would always say touch wood and if she saw a black cat she would say it’s lucky, I’m not really superstitious but I will avoid ladders, this article reminded me of an Indian friend of mine telling me that in India they don’t look at the full moon as it’s considered unlucky, and a relative of hers did so and broke her knee it did make me laugh because she looked horrified, throughout the world other countries have their own superstitions, at the moment we are in the grip of an ice age with snow hurricanes and flood warnings issued, I awoke to see snow falling and my cats are refusing to go outside, can’t say I blame them but I have to venture out to go to work later, hope everyone has a good day.

  2. My dad never went back inside the house for anything-once out the door to go wherever-that was it….bad luck to go back in he would say….I’m not superstitious at all, love black cats….my stepmother said in Brazil they consider Fri 13 to be lucky….oh I do have a lucky number-4, so
    I guess I am a bit superstitious……didn’t like Fri 13 as a kid, but am over it long since-so Happy Fri 13 to one and all….

  3. I read that no 13 is considered unlucky as that was the no of the last disciple, Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus, there are other explanations for no 13 being unlucky to but I cannot remember them at the mo.

    1. The Templar order was also arrested on a Friday 13th and that is another explanation. given. There are probably quite a few. I would imagine history and culture is full of them. For me it is of no significance either way.

  4. Liverpool won the European cup for the first time on their 13th attempt on the run, having only won the UAFA cup. We have had other success connected to the number_13_so it is a good omen.

    No I am not normally superstitious and find most quite funny. I am interested, however, in their origins. Popular magic did mix with traditional orthodoxy in medieval times, often with the clergy looking the other way. Marianda Richardson, the archaeology expert on old pagan practices gave a wonderful two days course on how some pagan and Catholic practices lived on in the minds of ordinary people, with a guest lecture from Ronald Hutton who is an expert on the old festivals and natural turns of the year. He has written a few good books on the subject. Your articles are very interesting. Cheers.

    1. Just something to give you a laugh. We had a woman on the course, not from a religion that believes in reincarnation who introduced herself as once being a Princess in Ancient Egypt.. She was a lovely person, but that was a conversation stopper and she was very serious. My mum and gran always came out with all the old sayings, turn your money over on a new moon, don’t change an inside out item before noon, don’t open an umbrella inside, don’t put a shoe box on the table, a dark haired person should let in the new year, don’t walk under ladders, all a load of nonsense but walking under a ladder may not be that practical. It is a fantastic subject to study, but superstition can also hold you back as some people end up not thinking for themselves as they don’t make any decision without a horoscope.

      1. I know that it’s considered unlucky to put the brolly up inside and to put shoes on the table but never knew why, then there’s that funny custom if you spill salt to throw it over your left shoulder and I believe it’s to do with the Romans, it’s true some people take it far too seriously and let it end up governing their life, Elizabeth 1st wrote about the ‘inward eye of suspicion’, possibly a reference to her tragic mother, personally I don’t believe in the horoscope but some people do and that’s their choice.

        1. I can see a practical reason for not putting shoes on the table, especially if they are muddy, plus have you ever opened an umbrella inside, not always practical, but then how do you dry it out?

          In the sixteenth century horoscopes were very intricate, mathematical items, worked out over several weeks, with a mixture of medical, science, astronomical and astrological information being considered. It was not separated into astronomy, the science and astrological the mystical. Casting a personal horoscope and astrological chart was seen as an art, but it was also seen as dangerous. By this period it was a crime to cast a horoscope with the view to predicting a person’s death as it was assumed the customer wanted to harm the subject. Now you may just mean it as a present, but beware who you gave it to, the recipient, if they did not commission it may accuse you of necramancy and have you tried for sorcery or treason if the subject was the King. A number of interesting cases illustrate this, the case of Eleanor Cobbam, accused of using this to kill, Humphrey Duke of Gloucester. The lady she got herbs and horoscopes from was burnt alive, with Eleanor held in prison for life. George Duke of Buckingham narrowly escaped execution when he had Charles iis astrological table done, because he said it was meant as a present for the King. Harsher punishments came in under Henry Viii and Elizabeth I, but as we all know the latter employed Dr John Dee to make her astrological tables on a number of special occasions. Dr Dee would have used complex data and calculations about the Queens health, humours, her birth conditions, her stars at that time, if there was a comet for example or eclipse, her urine would be tested, he may use some of her blood, mathematical calculations, astronomical observations for the day, her history, her personality, plus many other personal things to come up with elaborate charts designed just for her. A lot more sophisticated than than generic offerings in the local papers..It is very important to note the double standards followed by royalty, many of whom had a genuine interest in mystery and science and mixed the two….but condemned their subjects to death if they did the same. It was of course considered treason to cast the charts of a monarch without their permission as imagining the Kings death was treason and you could not get a more obvious example that including a prediction of the date of death in a royal horoscope. One assumes that officially ordered charts ommitted such information.

          Catherine de Medici was notorious for the use of astrological experts, although with the employment of Nostradarmus, her interest went beyond this. The Court of Ruddolf ii in Germany and at the court of the King of Denmark was the place to go to experiment in the mystical arts, even the black arts were studied and witchcraft debated as an intellectual subject. Everything, banned everywhere else, plus the new scientific ideas were studied openly and debated. Nothing was tabboo, in fact, the stranger and weirder, the more mystery in something, the better. James vi of Scotland went to Denmark to collect his bride, Anne, but stayed for some time and picked up a number of the ideas and intellectual beliefs on witchcraft and alchemy, both also banned by law, which may have inspired his own books on these matters.

          Today, the belief that you can harm someone by cursing them or magic would seem ridiculous, but it was a serious world view at this time. Numerous huge tomes were written on this subject, what is a witch, what is harmful, what is merely cunning or practical magic, what was demon worship, the powers of a witch, all the names of demons, all the ways to fight witchcraft or more specifically, malficia, using it to kill or harm, how to try witches, how to find them, their tricks and familias and so on. Many superstitious practices mixed with the casting of spells for protection, mixed with verses from scripture and prayers, for birth to protect mother and child, against disease, for good health, for love and many everyday problems. The cunning woman or man was permitted, but sorcery and malficia were not and even alchemy was forbidden as it debased the value of money, so all were crimes punishable by death. It is possible that many of our well known traditional superstitions have their origins in these counter actions against witches. Sprinkling salt or throwing it over your shoulder if you spill it, possibly does indeed go back to ancient times, but it was also said to be a gesture of protection against the Devil and you are throwing it in his face to warn him off when you cast it over your right shoulder, symbolic of the Right Hand of God. We might do such things absent minded today, not giving such strange beliefs much credence but back then fear of demons, witches, gouls and goblins was very real, life was very precocious and treatment of the sick rudimentary. If someone died while the local wise woman was caring for them, then all the nonsense beliefs came out and the poor woman would be charged with harming via sorcery and hung in England or burnt in Scotland and Europe. We have inherited most traditional superstitions, but fortunately we don’t take most of them as seriously as our ancestors.

  5. My son Lex and I are Atheists – rating ourselves at 6 on the Dawkins 7 Point Scale. So we just don’t do superstition, of course not, ah ha! Picking up our puppy Kafka, we learnt that his d.o.b. was 9/11. And we turned each to the other and said, “oh oops, could have been better!!” OK, fair enough, no-one in the free world would say that 9/11 was a day of ill omen, but it wasn’t a good day, but shocking, ghastly, never to be forgotten. But such terrible events lend themselves to superstition. So easy to mock, not so easy to rise above. I had an aunt would never wear the colour green: my sister insists on greeting ‘Mr. Magpie’ if one appears before noon and she is SO sensible otherwise. Francis Bacon wrote: “The root of all superstition is that men observe when a thing hits but not when it misses.” They are, anyway, endlessly fascinating. Sportsmen and pop stars develop personal superstitions because they allay human anxiety – so why not, hey!

  6. I am not superstitious, nonetheless, I do engage in knocking on wood, salt over shoulder, no shoes on the table. . . etc. . . etc. Costs nothing and why take a chance?

    1. Hi Gail!
      Oh lovely, Gail – why take a chance reminds me of Pascal’s Wager of which I’m sure you know. Should there be anyone who doesn’t, this ‘wager’ is a sort of 17th century probability theory thingie. Like: if you can’t know for sure that God/Gods exist or do not exist, then it is rational to hedge one’s bets and veer on the side of caution: loss being finite if there is no God but infinite if there is! GR.

    2. That is what I would call superstitious. Salt over the shoulder seems to be more traditional these days, I think people do it automatically. Why take the chance? That is a definite sign of being superstitious. Really, nothing negative will happen if you forget or can’t be bothered with all that nonsense. Maybe it is more about self comforting ritual than superstition and we all have rituals, even if we are not superstitious. I wouldnt mind betting we all do certain things in a certain order at night and sleep better if we have a routine. Not superstitions, but certainly part of who we are. We are very odd creatures I think. Somebody observed about sport rituals. Yes, there are definitely good and bad no nos in sport For example, in a cup final, you don’t touch the trophy as you come out and the majority of teams who have, have lost. May just be self fulfilling, but it is very strange. At Anfield they touch the badge on the way out and it normally works, but not always. We also force the opposition to touch the badge to put bad luck on them, but it is more likely the noise levels that intimidate the opposition than any magic from the sign. Never wash your game day socks before the end of the season is another very silly sports ritual, totally impractical as socks soon begin to smell…If you don’t wash them and hung them in the Man U or Everton dressing room that may have a positive outcome, that off knocking them out…lol. As our cat used to be first through the door on New Year’s Eve and no year ever seems any different, good or bad than any previous one, that tradition needs is a dead duck, but fun as well. Yes, she was a black puss and she gave us lots of love…maybe a bit of luck, but I don’t think any animal or person is any luckier than anything else. Luck is about seeing your opportunity and taking it. I am not talking about silly things like being lucky on the horses every so often, but the luck of creating love and accepting offers to help or do something from an unexpected quarter, taking and creating your own fortune and happiness wherever you go. The odd miracle may seem a coincidence, but no it’s a God incidence, there is no other explanation. I love all these stories, would love to know more origins though.

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