Friday, August 13, 2010

TGIF the 13th

Exploring the unknown is fun. That is probably why I love superstitions.  I don't necesarily follow them all, or believe in all of them, but I find them entertaining.   I'm also curious "how" and "why" we believe in such things.  Being that today is Friday the 13th, I thought I'd share with ya the 13 most popular superstions and their origins.

  • Itchy Palm – Good Luck     There seems to be a lot of variations on this superstition, but the idea of having an itchy palm generally refers to someone who is greedy or has an insatiable desire for money. In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Brutus states, "Let me tell you Cassius, you yourself are much condemned to have an itching palm." Some believe that if the right palm itches, you will meet someone new, while an itchy left palm means that money is coming. Others say that an itchy right palm means money coming in and a left-handed itch foretells money going out. The bottom line is, if either of your palms itch, do not scratch them or you will counter the effect – unless you scratch it on lucky wood or brass.

  •  Walking under a Ladder – Bad Luck   It's common sense to avoid walking under an open ladder for fear of something falling on you, but there are superstitious reasons for doing so as well. Consider the shape of an open ladder; a triangle that signifies life to some.  When you walk though the triangle, you are tempting the fates. You may also awaken spirits that live within the triangle (including evil spirits who may not be happy with the disturbance). If you do accidentally walk under a ladder, you can counter the bad luck by placing your thumb between your index and middle finger. Another method is to cross the fingers on both hands to call upon the sign of the cross to protect you from evil. 
  •   Breaking a Mirror – Bad Luck   Most will tell you that the agreed upon time span for bad luck is 7 years. 7 years is also how long it takes to fully rejuvenate the entire physical body.   Since a mirror was thought to be a reflection of the soul, breaking a mirror was harmful to the soul. To counter the ill effects, you can take the mirror outside and bury it in the moonlight. 

  • Finding a Horseshoe – Good Luck   Some people believe that this is the luckiest of all symbols, especially if it is found with the open end pointing toward you. If you find one of these gems, pick it up with your right hand, spit on one end, make a wish and toss it over your left shoulder, leaving it where it lands. You can also place a horseshoe over the entrance of your home with the open end down to bring luck to the family living within. Some traditions say that the number of nails left on the horseshoe will indicate how many years of good luck are to come.
  • Opening an Umbrella Inside – Bad Luck    It seems like a no-brainer that opening an umbrella inside can be bad luck, since it runs the risk of breaking valuable items and poking folks in the eye. However, there are also common superstitions that prohibit this act as well. Umbrellas that shade us from the deified sun are considered magical.  When the umbrella is opened inside and out of the way of sun's rays it offends the sun god. It may even signify impending death or ill fortune for both the person who opened it and the people who live within the home. 
  • Knock Twice on Wood – Reverses Bad Luck    The origin of this common superstition dates back to a time when some cultures believed that gods lived in trees. When one would ask for a favor from these gods, he would lightly touch the bark of the tree. To say thank you after the favor had been granted, he would knock lightly one more time. This custom may have also originated with Christians who were offering thanks for good fortune with this gesture to Jesus Christ who died on a cross made from wood. 
  • Tossing Spilled Salt over your Shoulder – Good Luck   Salt has always been considered a valuable substance capable of purifying and warding off evil spirits. By tossing spilled salt over your left shoulder, you are driving away the evil spirits lurking with the intent to cause misfortune.
  • Black Cats – Bad Luck  This is a tough one for cat lovers to swallow, but in the Middle Ages it was thought that witches kept black cats as companions.  Some people even believed that these kitties could turn into witches or demons after 7 years. Powerful men like Hitler and Napoleon Bonaparte were prepared to conquer nations, but terrified of a little black kitty. 
  • Saying "God Bless You" – Good Luck   You may think it is etiquette pure and simple, but blessing someone after he sneezes is actually a common superstition. In the 6th century, people were congratulated for sneezing because it was thought they were expelling evil spirits. Early Romans believed that a good sneeze could release your soul into the world, and a "bless you" would keep it safe. When the plague hit Europe in 1665, the pope mandated that everyone should be blessed when they sneezed since they were probably going to die. The blessing was usually followed up with the sign of a cross for good measure. 
  • "Turn your plate."  My mother would instruct my sister and I to turn our plates whenever someone left the table during a meal. By turning our plates, we were ensuring that the individual who left the table would arrive at their destination safely. Failure to 'turn your plate' would prove an ultimate demise for the person who just left. Wouldn't it have been more polite if that person just waited for everyone to finish eating before leaving?
  • Trick or Treat - The Druids believed that on October 31st, the dead rose from their graves to revisit their old homes. The frightened villagers would put out offerings of fruits and nuts to keep the wandering souls from destroying their homes and property. Today we no longer practice this superstition, but instead we make light of it by dressing our children up (many of them AS the dead) and sending them out to collect goodies from our (no longer fearful) neighbors.    
  • A rabbit’s foot - Good Luck  Considered lucky in many countries, but especially in America, where over 10 million rabbit’s feet are bought every year and are said to bring good luck to their owners & protect them against evil spirits.  Rubbing the charm all over a newborn baby ensures that the child is always lucky. But one should be very careful to not lose the charm, as misfortune will then move in swifter than the running of a rabbit.  The superstition is thought to be of Afro-American origin and is said to be one of the oldest in the world, as old as around 600 BC. It is assumed that this is a carry-on of rituals or talismans of an African tribe and may also be connected to the legends of the Br'er Rabbit (representing the black slave who used his wits to overcome situations and extract revenge on the white slave-owners)  Since rabbits live underground, they were also linked to darkness, witches, and the devil, but were considered to have protective powers against these evil forces. Also earlier on, only the left hind foot of the rabbit was considered lucky and it had to be rubbed to bring on good luck. The hind leg was considered lucky because when rabbits run, their hind feet go ahead of their front, although it is not clear as to why only the left hind foot was taken.  
  •  Friday the 13th  – Bad Luck  Many of us can't help but get a shiver of trepidation when we realize that a Friday the 13th is lurking within the current month. A fear of the number 13 is one of the most common superstitions around, and is so widespread that many apartments and hotels omit the 13th floor and some airlines fly without a 13th row. The most popular thought on the origin of this origin is that Judas was the 13th guest at the Last Supper and that Christ was crucified on a Friday. Put it all together, and you have one unlucky day of the year.
Common superstitions still have a place across the globe today, and many of us enjoy finding out the reasons behind the rituals to make sense of them. Whenever you toss the salt, knock on wood or bless someone when they sneeze, you are making the world a safer place from all the evil spirits lurking about. You never know when your simple action to counter bad luck will be just the thing to make your world and the people around you a bit happier.

How Superstitious Are You?

Do you take great care with mirror glass? Would you never even dream of walking under a ladder? I know I tend to NOT kill spiders in the house, and believe that a bird in your house is a GOOD omen.  Although I don;t tend to think of myself as superstitious.. I guess I AM.. lol.. 
Some people take certain age old beliefs as seriously as they do the law, there are varying degrees of superstition.
 I found this quiz tells you where YOU fall on the superstitious scale. And if it makes you feel better, you can rub your good luck charm before you begin. 

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1 comment:

  1. I am a little. I don't like breaking mirrors...but I will kill a spider! Don't like them...I have spider phobia! Funny, my blog was kind of like Friday the 13th as well!! More about my day though!


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