Friday Free For All

It’s Friday the 13th!

I’m a superstitious sort, but I’m also the type who delights in the bad luck beliefs and subverts them. For instance, black animals often find themselves unwanted in shelters because of the belief that they are bad luck. I love black cats. If I could have a cat, I’d adopt a black one. As it is, I rescued a black dog a few years ago, and she is my ever loyal hellhound.

While some people may look upon Friday the 13th with a sense of trepidation brought on superstitions or cheesy horror films, it’s one of my favorite days of the year. Thirteen has always been my favorite number. So here are thirteen superstitions:

  1. Salt over your shoulder. Some old timers believe that the devil sits behind your left shoulder. To ward it off, you throw salt – a purifier – over your shoulder. To this day, anytime I take a pinch of salt from my salt cellar while cooking, I reserve a few grains to toss behind me.
  2. Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. We all know this one isn’t true, otherwise our poor mothers would all be fractured messes. However, knowing it wasn’t true and believing it wasn’t true are two completely different things, and let me tell you, when I was small, I avoided every crack I could out of sheer guilt that any harm might come to my mom. Even now, I still step over them if the chance arises.
  3. Broken mirror, seven years bad luck. I wish I could say I have never broken a mirror. If it wasn’t the mirror in a makeup compact that did me in, surely it was the double sided makeup mirror my mom had. And I dropped it. The glass stayed in one piece–except for a singular hole punched through the bottom edge. It wasn’t long after that a number of odd things began to happen to me.
  4. A black cat crossing your path. I found a black kitten one day when I was child. I promptly scooped her up and brought her home because I didn’t think it was right for a kitten to be running free in the alley behind our house. Despite my protests and tears, my parents made my older sister and me take her up and down the street, knocking on doors to ask residents if the kitten was theirs. We found her owners and learned her name was Coco. For the rest of the years that I lived in my parents’ home, Coco would come and find me when I was outside and often sat with me in the yard when I was reading books.
  5. A shiver down your back means someone’s walked over the place you’ll be buried. I have no way of knowing whether this one is true, but I do know that it crosses my mind every time I get an explained shudder. I’ll tell you when I get there.
  6. A lucky rabbit’s foot. No, no, no. Just no. I thought I had a lucky rabbit’s foot when I was about six years old. Thank God it was only a block of wood with some fake fur glued to it. Rather than having a bunch of three-legged rabbit’s hopping around, let’s just keep the animals whole please.
  7. Holding your breath when driving past a graveyard. I’m not sure how common this belief is. I distinctly remember crouching down in the back seat of my father’s car and holding my breath when he drove past the old Scandinavian cemetery on our way to pretty much anywhere in my hometown. I believed that if I didn’t hold my breath, the dead would rise from their graves and make me join them. Yes, I was a weird kid. I still am.
  8. Three crows. To see three crows roosting together was foul. (Har, har.) I’d once been told the three birds were the past, present, and future, and to scare them off was to end your life prematurely.
  9. Stopped clocks. It was always bad luck to let a clock remain stopped. My parents kept a German cuckoo clock wound, and they never let watch batteries die. The minute the time started to slow, that battery was replaced because a stopped clock foretold the hour of one’s death.
  10. Saying “MacBeth” while in a theater. This one has always amused me. Really, how could it be dangerous to say the name of the famous Scottish play? Well, my sister was in “MacBeth” in college . . . and had a horrible injury where she fell of a wooden rise and got not only a massive bruise on her hip but also hundreds of tiny splinters stuck down the inside of her leg from her thigh to her ankle. I’ll give you one guess to speculate whether she said the cursed word or not.
  11. An upside-down horseshoe. It’s fairly common knowledge that horseshoes a symbol of good luck, but did you know there’s a right way to hang them on the wall? The ends must face upward so that the horseshoe forms a U shape. Otherwise, the luck is thought to spill out.
  12. Gifting knives. Not that it’s a good idea to give someone you like a blade anyway, but if you do, you had better be ready for the relationship to be severed as the knife will cut right through it.
  13. Chain letters. Oh, these were really popular in the pre-Internet days. Christopher Pike even wrote two books about them and the horror that befell the teens who didn’t follow the letter’s instructions. We received exactly one chain letter from one of my older sister’s friends. I don’t know what it said–my mother didn’t allow me to read it, and she promptly set it on fire to get ride of it. As one did. Seems my parents, particularly my mother, was full of her own sorts of superstitions as well.

    I hope you’ve had fun with some of my Friday the 13th superstitions! Just beware of walking under ladders!

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