Crossing a Black Cat's Path
Black cats are viewed as powerful omens. In ancient Egypt, they were revered and said to bring good luck. However, during the middle ages, black cats were viewed as a witch's companion, or even a witch in disguise. Pilgrims also believed these superstitions; which makes sense when one thinks about American history. We have to side with the Egyptians. Honestly, how could this face be unlucky? If you really want to celebrate Friday the 13th, adopt a black cat from a local shelter. You disprove a superstition and gain a new friend. Win/win.
This is an easy superstition to test out. Step 1: spill salt. Step 2: resist the urge to toss it over your shoulder. Step 3: be cursed. Well, not cursed, but according to the ancient Sumerians, salt was a prized seasoning for food and wasting it would bring bad luck. To combat it, they would throw a pinch of salt over the left shoulders. The concept carried through Egypt, Greece and current countries today.
Tails Side-Up Penny
"Find a penny pick it up; all day long you'll have good luck", if it's on heads that is. This superstition stems from medieval times when the people believed metals provided protection from evil spirits. The heads being lucky started when people would flip over a tails-up penny for the next person to get good luck. Selfishly picking up the penny instead caused bad karma, AKA bad luck. How about today you set a heads-up coin down for somebody else to find, and reap that sweet good karma?
Stepping on Cracks
"Don't step on a crack or you'll break your momma's back" rang through ears during elementary days. Turns out, this playground rhyme has a few variations and some pretty terrible origins. One version of the rhyme, "step on a crack and your mother will turn black," stemmed from the prevalent (and disgusting) racism of the 19th-early 20th century, and it's definitely not a rhyme we will be repeating anytime soon. Another version, which almost seems friendly by comparison, warned children that they would be chased by a bear if they stepped on a crack. This is one superstition you're almost sure to have already tested, so give yourself a pat on your unbroken back.
Walk Under a Leaning Ladder
Dating back to ancient Egypt, walking under a leaning ladder is said to bring bad luck. The shape created a triangle, representing the trinity of the gods and passing through it was said to insult them. This belief held strong through the ages when Christianity picked up ladder as a symbol of wickedness because it rested against the crucifix. We don't see ourselves coming across many ladders, but if you do, be sure to pass through—or around.
Break a Mirror
Okay, so we aren't encouraging you to break that gorgeous antique—but if you do get the urge to smash some glass, today's the day. Although the ancient Greeks believed an image distorted by a mirror predicted death, ancient Romans took a less drastic approach, thinking a broken mirror meant seven years of misfortune. And since the Romans conquered everything at the time, their opinion triumphed.
The Number 13
Triskaidekaphobia, wow big word right? But in simple terms, it means the fear of the number 13. It dates back to ancient Romans who believed 13 was a bad omen, predicting ill-fortune and death. And they aren't the only group. Norse mythology and Christianity also dislike the number. Test it yourself by riding to the 13th floor on an elevator—if you can find one that is. Many hotels and buildings simply skip from 12 to 14. (But we know what floor the 14th really is.)
Knock on Wood
Whenever you test fate, you may hear someone say "knock on wood." This popular expression stems from the belief that sacred trees, like oak, ash or hawthorn, contain spirits who can protect people from evil demons. Think good things will happen today? Better knock on some wood.
"God Bless" After a Sneeze
In the sixth century A.D., diseases spread through Italy like wild fire. One of the most common symptoms, chronic sneezing, quickly led to death. Although we know, technically speaking, this was due to lack of hygiene and medical care, Pope Gregory the Great tried to fight the plague by encouraging people to pray for the sick. Hence, saying "God bless you" immediately following the sneeze began. We know evil spirits aren't emitting from your nose, but saying "bless you" is polite, so be good a person, even today.
Opening Umbrellas Indoors
Ever since your first rainy day you've heard someone tell you not to open your umbrella inside. The superstition started in eighteenth-century London, when umbrellas were designed with metal-spokes and clumsy mechanisms that made them hazardous, especially inside. So really, safety played a major role in this theory. Doesn't seem so bad now does it?
Crossing Your Fingers
There are several theories about where this superstition came from. Some think it relates to Christianity and creating a cross to signify good luck. Others say it started as an old Pagan or Norse gesture. We don't really know. But what we can say for certain, our fingers are crossed you enjoyed this article. ;)
Many feel uneasy when they see "666" appearing in a row—sorry if you're one of them. But this number, said to be "The Number of the Beast" comes from Christianity as well. It's referenced in the Biblical Book of Revelations as being a representative of Satan. Since then, several movies and books like The Omen play around with this fear. And it's a legit fear, also known as hexakosioihexakontahexaphobia. We know, that's a mouthful.
Friday the 13
We couldn't talk about superstitions and omit this one. People believe Friday the 13th is considered unlucky because of the cultural notions of the number 13 itself and the incidents that happened previously on this day like monarchs dying, Adam betraying Eve, and other anecdotal misfortunes. Of course, the release of the film Friday the 13th definitely helped with modern paranoia. But is this day really unlucky? Well, we're about to find out.