Happy Friday the 13th! Are you feeling unlucky today? Have you ever wondered where exactly the unlucky nature of the day originates? Below are five superstitions and their history explained.
Friday the 13th
Superstitions surrounding Friday the 13th long predate the Lindsay Lohan movie of the same name. It goes back for centuries, with references found throughout history. It can be traced back to significant events such as King Philip IV of France having hundreds of Knights Templar arrested on Friday the 13th of October 1307. Charged with unfounded claims, they were then burned at the stake.
Thomas W. Lawson’s 1907 novel Friday, the Thirteenth furthered the belief in the unlucky day.
In more recent history, Friday the 13th has coincided with events such as the German bombing of Buckingham Palace in September 1940, the crash of a Uruguayan Air Force plane in the Andes that killed 29 in October 1972, and the death of rapper Tupac Shakur in September 1996.
Fear of the number 13 is so common that it even has its own psychological term — triskaidekaphobia.
Black cats have it rough.
In European and American history, crossing paths with a black cat is an omen of misfortune and death. Why? As a nocturnal creature, cats in general were considered evil. Black cats had it even worse, with a far deeper association with the dark side. During the Salem witch trials, it was believed that witches could transform into black cats.
But black cats didn’t always have a bad rap. In ancient Egypt, all cats — including black cats — were considered sacred beings.
Owls in the House
According to some Native American tribes, owls were an omen of impending change in one’s life, particularly death. Seeing an owl or hearing its hoot meant someone was going to die. It’s a belief that’s still around today. Because owls are nocturnal animals, they were also associated with magic by the Greeks and Romans. They believed witches could transform themselves into owls. In other cultures, an owl’s hoot was seen as a warning that a witch was approaching.
Is it any wonder that the full moon would carry a number of superstitions? We’ve all heard that a full moon will transform a man into a werewolf. But did you know the full moon is considered unlucky if it occurs on a Sunday, but lucky if it falls on a Monday? The name Monday is actually derived from the old English word that literally means “moon day.” Just like the tides, the full moon is believed to impact our bodies and human behaviour in general. In fact, the word “lunatic” comes form the Latin word “luna,” because people were believed to exhibit strange behaviour during the full moon. Animals have also been found to behave more aggressively than usual during this time in the lunar calendar.
Broken Mirrors — and Intact Ones
A broken mirror bringing seven years of bad luck is one of the most common superstitions out there. It dates back to Roman times, when it was believed a mirror’s reflection was actually one’s soul. Breaking a mirror would therefore damage the soul and trap it inside. To reverse the curse, the mirror’s broken pieces had to be buried under moonlight. There are also some superstitions surrounding mirrors in general. In Feng Shui, mirrors are believed to absorb negative energy. Like the evil queen in Snow White, mirrors are also believed to be a way of contacting the other side and telling one’s future. It has been said mirrors should be covered at night to prevent one’s soul from wandering and becoming trapped on the other side.
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