It’s Friday the 13th. This traditionally unlucky date can occur up to three times a year. You might not consider yourself superstitious but would you arrange your wedding, a job interview, or an important trip on this date? Love them, loathe them, or live by them, superstitions surround us and it’s not just Friday the 13th we have to fear.
If someone enters your house with a shopping bag containing shoes and drops them on the kitchen table, do you leave the food you’re cooking to burn, and trip over the table legs as you grapple the bags to the floor? You’re not alone. During Elizabethan times, putting shoes on the table was said to invite imminent death. Not surprising as it relates it to the old phrase “to die in your shoes” which means a person will be hanged.
If an old lady walks down a path, abruptly turns back, and crosses a busy road to continue on her way, it looks like a dangerous manoeuvre. In her eyes it’s far safer than passing under the ladder leaning against the shop front ahead. You probably wouldn’t want to see her spitting three times through the rungs of the ladder or once over her left shoulder, actions said to counter the bad luck.
If a man on the bus sneezes, you mutter, “Bless you.” You’re only being polite, but if you hadn’t, none other than the Devil may have entered his body when he opened his mouth to sneeze; at least that’s what this Elizabethan tradition decrees.
Do you watch out for magpies? They’re always trouble. Folklore suggests these black and white birds refused to go into full mourning, like other birds, at the time of the Crucifixion. If you pass them, recite a rhyme to count how many there are, or salute and say, “Hello Mr Magpie!” just to be sure.
If you do have plans for Friday the 13th, touch on wood, and keep your fingers crossed; you might just get through it. Or find a four-leaf clover, that’ll bring you luck.
In Ireland, the shamrock or three-leaf clover represents the Holy Trinity: one leaf for the Father, one for the Son, and one for the Holy Spirit. When a shamrock is found with a fourth leaf, it represents God’s Grace, and will bring you luck. Pop one of these in your pocket today, just in case.
Superstitions play a leading role in our everyday lives. If you see a coin on the floor, pick it up—on Friday the 13th you’ll need your luck!