Friday the 13th: 5 other superstitions that are just as bad as Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th is said to be the unluckiest day of the year in Western superstition. Given that it is guaranteed there will be at least one and at most three Friday the 13ths in any given year, the legacy continues to distress Britons suffering from paraskevidekatriaphobia, the fear of this most ominous of days, each year. This year there are two Friday the 13ths, today and one in December. But what are five other superstitions that are just as bad as Friday the 13th?

Black cats

Black cats feature in many superstitions around the world, at times representing very good or very bad luck.

During the Middle Ages black cats were thought to be the assistants of witches.

In the US to this day, they are thought to bring misfortune.

But in Britain and Ireland it is both lucky and unlucky to see a black cat.

If a cat walks towards you it is said to bring good fortune, but the luck will turn sour if the black cat walks away, as it “takes the luck” with them.

In Scotland there is a superstition that if a strange black cat arrives at a home, prosperity is coming to that household.

But across many areas of Europe, black cats are considered symbols of bad luck, especially when they cross your path, which is said to be an omen of death.

If a black cat wanders aboard a ship and then disembarks, the ship is said to be doomed to sink on its next voyage.

Walking under a ladder

The superstition of walking underneath a leaning ladder dates back 5,000 years to ancient Egypt.

The leaning ladder against a wall formed a triangle and Egyptians regarded this shape as sacred, exemplified in their erection of the pyramids.

Egyptians believed triangles represented the trinity of the gods and to travel through a triangle, by walking under a ladder, would desecrate and dishonour them.

This superstition also originates from the biblical age when Jesus was upon the crucifix.

A ladder rested against the crucifix and that became a symbol of wickedness, betrayal, and death.

Subsequently, walking beneath a ladder is said to court misfortune.

Additionally, in England in the 1600s, criminals were forced to walk under a ladder on their way to the gallows.

Broken mirror

Breaking a mirror is said to bring seven years bad luck.

This superstition dates back to ancient Greece, when mirrors were seen as portals to the soul.

It was an ill omen to break one as it was thought that it would represent the breaking of one’s soul.

The Romans introduced the concept of seven years bad luck as they believed it took this amount of time to renew a life and was about the same amount of time that it would take to be rid of tiny shards of glass.

Knock on wood

Around the world, it is a common superstition that people knock their knuckles on a piece of wood to bring themselves good fortune or ward off bad luck.

The phrase “knock on wood” or “touch wood” are common in the UK.

One common origin for this superstition dates back to ancient pagan cultures such as the Celts, who believed that spirits and gods resided in trees.

Knocking on tree trunks was believed to rouse the spirits and call on their protection and could be seen as a way of showing gratitude for a stroke of good luck.

However, another theory is that people knocked on wood to chase away evil spirits or prevent them from listening in when they boasted about their luck, thereby preventing a reversal of fortune.

No umbrellas inside

The superstition about umbrellas says that back luck will “rain” down on you if you open an umbrella indoors.

This thought most likely dates back to the 18th century when umbrellas were still a relatively new invention and the devices were difficult to handle.

Often in the beginning they were either tightly closed or sprung into action, often with such force that they could take out someone’s eye.

However, it is also thought to take back to the Egyptian times when umbrellas made of papyrus and peacock feathers.

During this time umbrellas were designed to mimic the goddess who formed the sky and their shade was deemed as sacred.

Anyone who allowed the shade of a royal umbrella to fall upon them had to be royalty, otherwise, they were considered to bring back luck.

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