The Superstitions of Friday the 13th

You know you love it - Friday the 13th. It's like giving the middle finger to that superstitious OCD side of yourself. We all have it, that part of the primitive brain that believes in protection, amulets, and the like. Let's talk about superstition and then dive right into this happy Friday the 13th.

When looking through some superstitions, it becomes apparent that it would be hard to get through an entire day if you had to stop and observe all of them.

Superstitions are the belief that something supernatural can affect our physical world unless the human does some magical gesture. In some forms of OCD, this magical belief is part of a dysfunctional thinking pattern that leads a person compelled to keep checking a lock or taking a certain amount of steps in every sidewalk square. Superstition is found in religions and folklore. Ask an athlete who keeps a penny in his left shoe-he made a superstitious correlation that he had something amazing happen when he did that and henceforth will not press his "luck." Talk to ghost investigators about "saging."

Here's just some superstitions. Which ones do you actually succumb to?

Friday the 13th is an unlucky day
Break a mirror--seven years bad luck
Walking under a ladder causes bad luck
A black cat crossing your path is bad luck
A rabbit's foot brings good luck
Wearing clothes inside out is good luck
Crossing your fingers brings good luck
A lock of hair from a baby's first haircut is lucky
A sailor wearing an earring cannot drown
If you drop a fork, a woman will visit
Cat's take away a baby's breath
Warm hands, cold heart

I admit that when I was a kid, I used to have the hardest time with the mirror superstition. To my young mind, a fractured image would mean a fractured person who was reflected in that mirror. When I broke a mirror, I made sure not to lean over the pieces and be caught in the fragments.

Some time between sixth and seventh grade, I got past this fear and actually opened umbrellas indoors and found it enchanting to have a black cat cut across my path. I tested such concepts a lot and noticed the sky did't fall in. In fact, to this day, Friday the 13th is my lucky day which is, in itself, a superstition.

That 13 thing is a strong superstition. In fact, buildings built in the heyday of fear, didn't post a 13th floor!

Here's is what Wikipedia says about the 13th floor: "Reasons for omitting a thirteenth floor include triskaidekaphobia on the part of the building's owner or builder, or a desire by the building owner or landlord to prevent problems that may arise with superstitious tenants, occupants, or customers. Based on an internal review of records, Dilip Rangnekar of Otis Elevators estimates that 85% of the buildings with elevators did not have a floor named the 13th floor. Future building designers, fearing a fire on the 13th floor, or fearing tenants' superstitions about the rumor, decided to omit having a 13th floor listed on their elevator numbering. This practice became commonplace, and eventually found its way into mainstream culture and building design."

One curious horror movie delved into what would happen if there was a hidden 13th floor - "Nightmare on the 13th Floor."

Of course, on a day like today, nothing beats "Friday the 13th." 

Great book on superstitions: Superstitions and Why We Have Them by Max Cryer.