I consider myself to be very Superstitious. (Cue Stevie Wonder). There are a lot of Superstitions I believe in and Friday the 13th is no exception. While I don’t suffer from Paraskavedekatriaphobia– a fear of Friday the 13th– or spend the entire day hiding in my bed with the covers pulled over my head, I do exercise more caution than I would on a normal day.
So Where Did the Superstition Come From?
No, it did not come from a movie franchise about a machete wielding, hockey mask wearing murderer. There are actually a few theories of where the day of bad luck started.
From a Biblical standpoint, it’s believed that Friday the 13th originated from the story of ‘The Last Supper’, where there were 13 people in attendance on the 13th of Nisan, on the night before the crucifixion of Jesus: Good Friday. Some historians also believe it is the day that Eve bit the Apple.
There is also the idea that the superstition originated on Friday the 13th of October, 1307 when Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar and later had some of them executed.
Regardless of the actual origin, for many people – including myself – the day just gives an uneasy feeling that if anything can go wrong it will.
Knock on Wood
I believe that everyone is at least a tiny bit Superstitious, even if they don’t realize it. How many people use the phrase ‘Knock on Wood’ when hoping to ward off bad luck? Me..and my mother for sure…but I know it’s a common phrase! It’s said that during medieval times, churches would encourage people to knock on the wood of Jesus’s cross for good luck.
Here are the top 5 Superstitions I believe in and their origins:
Rabbit, Rabbit: When you first wake up on the first day of the month, before you say anything else, say “Rabbit, Rabbit” for good luck the whole month through. If you forget in the morning, you can say “Hare, Hare” as the last thing you say before going to bed. The superstition is of British origin but the reason is unknown. My mother would wake me up for school in the morning on the first of every month and say “Say Rabbit Rabbit!” so that I would be sure to say it.
Shoes on the Table: OMG. If I see shoes on a table, I will dive across a room to remove them from said table. For me it is the ultimate of bad luck causing scenarios. If I’m buying shoes at a shoe store, I’m not even comfortable with placing them on the counter for the cashier to ring them through. It gets weird sometimes. My mother told me it was bad luck when I was a child and her mother told her and so on. (I’m noticing a trend here)…
Again of British origin, it is said that putting shoes on the table invited bad luck to the individual and could signify death of a family member or loss of a job. Yikes.
Spilling Salt: It is bad luck to spill salt and the only way to reverse the bad luck is to throw a pinch of salt over your left shoulder. It’s believed that spilling salt is a bad omen, as Judas is depicted spilling the salt at The Last Supper.
Opening an Umbrella Indoors: The belief is from all the way back to the early Egyptians who used umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun. Opening an umbrella indoors was considered an insult to the Sun Gods. My 5 year old obviously has no regard for the Sun Gods.
Sneezing: You commonly hear someone say “God Bless You” or the German saying “Gesundheit!” after someone sneezes. I feel it’s entirely necessary to say to someone, so much so that I’ll say it to complete strangers if I hear them sneeze. The belief comes from the Ancient Romans, Greeks and Egyptians who believed that the soul lived in the breath so that to sneeze would expel the soul from the body.
I also believe that a black cat crossing your path, walkng under a ladder and breaking a mirror will bring bad luck (7 years for the last one!). And I’m still not convinced my Mother’s persistent back problems aren’t a result of my blatant disregard for “Don’t step on a crack, or you’ll break your Mother’s back” as a child. Regardless of their origins or whether or not they actually bring a curse of misfortune, I believe in these things. It’s like my brain is hard programmed to believe it and I’m not alone. According to a 1996 Gallup Poll, 1 in 4 Americans were Superstitious.
As if October wasn’t already spooky enough with Halloween right around the corner, a Friday the 13th thrown in should really freak people out.
What are your favourite Superstitions? I’d love to hear from you!
Happy Friday the 13th!