Superstitions Around the World
Get ready: it’s Friday the 13th! But why exactly is Friday the 13th so scary, and what other odd superstitions might you run into?
The history of the superstition isn’t exactly clear, but certainly, some bad luck does seem to hit with the combination of the number 13 on a Friday.
There were 13 people at Christ’s Last Supper, which was on a Friday.
And if you believe The Da Vinci Code, then the superstition can be traced back to Friday, 13 October 1307, when hundreds of Knights Templar were arrested, falsely charged, tortured and eventually burned at the stake.
These theories may be rather loosely grounded in truth, but many people do believe that Friday the 13th is the unluckiest day of the year. They refuse to go to work, drive cars and even get married on the day. According to the Mirror, in 2013, one third of Britons claimed to have changed their plans, called in ill, or delayed holidays because of the date, and 72% said they had experienced bad luck on Friday the 13th. The phobia is so big, there’s even a word for it: ‘friggatriskaidekaphobia’ – Friday the 13th fear.
Black Cats, Salt, and Lucky Number 13
While in the UK we may avoid black cats and walking under ladders, each country has its own fears and superstitions. Here are some of the strangest and spookiest superstitions from around the world.
- In Turkey, the 13th day of every month, Friday or not, is considered unlucky and locals avoid doing any number of things. However, beyond their suspicions of the 13th, the Turks have many other superstitions: putting on your trousers standing up is thought to bring poverty, repeating a wish 40 times will make it come true, and chewing gum at night is frowned upon (it’s believed you’re actually chewing on the flesh of the dead. Not so minty fresh after all!).
- If an uninvited guest turns up to a party in Crete, someone should sneak outside and pour salt – it’s thought this will drive the person away quickly. Praising a baby is thought to tempt Fate, so if you make this mistake you should pretend to spit on the ground three times to ward off bad luck. Black hens are considered a good sign.
- Egypt‘s got a wealth of superstitions. In Arab culture, it is abominably rude to put your shoes up facing someone – and in particular if you place your shoes upside down, as you are pointing the soles at God Himself. Likewise, leaving scissors open means you are cutting spirits and souls, who will bring you bad luck in turn.
- In Germany meanwhile, chimney sweeps are thought to be lucky. Shaking hands with one on New Year’s Day ensures a happy and prosperous year. Saying ‘cheers’ (‘prost’ in German) with a glass of water instead of wine, or beer, is to wish death to your family and friends. Dogs are to be buried underneath the doorstep so their ghosts can guard the house against evil spirits.
- Superstitions in Italy tend to be rather more romantic. If you’re single, be careful not to let the broom touch your toes when you sweep – otherwise you’ll never be swept off your feet by your true love. The number 13 is actually considered good luck, and is believed to bring prosperity and life. Sounds like Italy is a good place to go this Friday the 13th!
Every culture offers its own range of quirky yet endearing superstitions. Which weird and wonderful superstitions do you believe in?