The granddad of all superstitions, Friday the 13th is perceived as an abnormally ominous day. Many feel that there are numerous incidents and examples in history when a calamity befell someone foolhardy enough to challenge the number 13. The ancient Hindus, as the story goes, started the whole thing when they avowed that 13 people at a table brought bad luck. Some trace the phobia to the fact that Christ died on a Friday, and that there were 13 at the Last Supper, one of whom betrayed Jesus.
And more recently, there’s the movie series, which may fuel the superstition. Whatever you believe, this Friday is a 13th, so you may just want to do one of these things to keep bad luck from finding you!
1. Keep your fingers crossed — Making the sign of the Christian faith with your fingers is believed to prevent evil spirits from ruining your good fortune.
2. Knock on Wood — It was once believed that good spirits lived in trees and that by knocking on anything made from wood, we can call upon these spirits for protection against misfortune.
3. Find a four-leaf clover — Ancient druids believed shamrocks helped them to see evil spirits, providing the opportunity to avoid them.
4. Put your clothes on inside out — No one seems to know how this superstition originated, but the belief that backwards or inside out clothing brings good luck continues to be widespread — from children wearing their pajamas inside out in hopes of a snow day to baseball players and fans turning their caps inside out during important games, and more.
5. Look at the new moon over your right shoulder — The moon is central to many long-held superstitions, and the New Moon is seen as a ripe time for undertaking new enterprises. Whether those enterprises are successful or not depends on whether the New Moon is first seen over the right shoulder (good) or the left (bad).
6. Sleep facing south — The belief that sleeping with your head facing south promotes good health and fortune persists to this day, even among some doctors. The belief seems to be rooted in the Chinese art of feng shui, which attributes a causal connection between geographic placements and the movement of “qi,” or positive spiritual energy.
7. Break a clear, uncolored glass — While breaking a mirror is believed to usher in seven years of bad luck, the breaking of a clear glass has traditionally been seen as a sign that you’ve averted some grave misfortune. The glass purportedly takes on the ill fortune in your place.
8. Walk in the rain — Anyone who’s ever been caught without his/her umbrella may dispute this one, but rain has always been a sign of good luck. This is probably because it is so important to the success of crops; before modern irrigation methods were widespread, a rainy season meant the difference between lean years and prosperous ones.
9. Sleep on un-ironed sheets — This is another superstition with uncertain origins. Luckily, few people iron their sheets these days, anyway.
10. Avoid cracks in the sidewalk — Most of us know the old rhyme “Step on a crack, break your mother’s back.” Whether the rhyme is the cause of, or a result of, this superstition is uncertain, though belief in it persists in many people today, even if subconsciously. Come to think of it, avoiding sidewalk cracks is probably a good policy for anyone who wants to avoid tripping.
11. Carry an acorn in your pocket — Acorns, the fruit of the sturdy oak tree, are an ancient symbol of fertility and long life.
12. Sneeze three times before breakfast — The number three has been seen as a lucky number in many cultures and religions throughout history. In Europe, where this superstition originated, the number’s association with the Christian trinity is an important association.
13. Pick up a pencil, a pin, a penny, or a piece of coal in the street — Finding, and claiming, any of these items has long been believed to portend good fortune. Some modern versions specify that only a heads-up penny is good luck.
Good Luck in Animal Form
Animals have long been seen as harbingers of either good or bad luck. Here are just a few animals that are said to foretell good fortune: three sheep, crickets singing, ladybugs, a robin flying into your home, on you, dolphins swimming near a ship, a frog inside your home, a spider spinning in the morning, a dog (especially a Dalmatian or a greyhound with a white spot on its head), a bee landing on your hand or head, birds calling from any direction but north, a bird leaving droppings on your head (yuck! Who wants that kind of good luck?), two blackbirds sitting together, a butterfly inside your house, a cat sneezing, two, three, or four crows, a lone fox, a black goat, a kingfisher, a stork building a nest on your roof.
Happy Friday the 13th!
Still feeling unlucky? Don’t miss our follow-up article, 13 (More) Ways to Improve Your Luck this Friday the 13th!