Stuck On The 13th Floor

CAROLING WITH CAROL

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I made it through Friday the 13th (the 24 hours, not the Jason movies) unscathed.

No black cats crossed my path.

I didn't walk under any ladders.

The salt I threw over my shoulder to ward off evil didn't hit any other restaurant-goes in the face.

I didn't break any mirrors.

A superstition is the belief that an object, action or circumstance not related to a particular course of events influences its outcome. It's an irrationally maintained belief or practice.

There are plenty of fun superstitions that folks subscribe to without any particular thought.

Here are a few:

If it is lost by a horse and found by a person, a horseshoe brings good luck. Hung over the door with the open end up holds the luck in, though I've heard hanging it the opposite way provides protection.

In either case, make it a secure hanging, because horseshoes and craniums don't mix.

Criminals were hung from the top rung of ladders in the days before gallows. Their spirits were thought to linger underneath.

I remember my Mom wouldn't wish on the breastbone of the Thanksgiving turkey until it had fully dried. Then she and I would each grab a side, make a wish and pull. The biggest piece of bone won.

Breaking a mirror was once thought to set the soul astray from the astral body. Misfortune could be allayed by waiting seven hours to pick up the pieces then burying them in the moonlight.

According to oldsuperstitions.com we say ‘God bless you' when someone sneezes because of the Great Plague in Europe. Then, a sneeze forbore death, so the Pope passed a law requiring people to bless the sneezer.

The Vietnamese, however, believe that if you sneeze it means someone is saying nice things about you.

Growing up, if I was walking with my Mom and something came between us, such as a column, a trash container, or a car, she or I would say, "Bread and butter." I always thought it meant, "I love you," and was just a funny thing we did.

But, the superstition goes, if two people are walking together and a column comes between them one must say, "Bread and butter," and the other person must repeat it or they won't be friends any more.

Is that like the superstition that giving someone a knife as a gift will cut the friendship?

Ancient Britons believed trees had spirits. Knocking on wood called those spirits forth to protect the knocker. To this day, some people (yes, myself included) knock on wood twice to prevent what they say from really happening.

Theater lore states that whistling inside a theater means the next performance will be a total bomb.

Picking up a head's up penny is supposed to bring good luck. To reverse the luck of tails-up coins, pass them along to someone else.

Insect aren't immune from the lore.

A ladybug landing on you is supposed to bring good luck.

According to college student Michele Dogherty, the praying mantis was thought to bring good luck to whomever it landed on (except another praying mantis) and even restore life to the dead in Africa. Because the mantis always seems to be praying, Europeans thought the insect was highly worshipful to God (maybe it was just praying for French food). She said Americans believed mantises would blind men and kill horses.

I'm sticking with the African belief, thank you very much.

Athletes can be superstitious. For instance, Michael Jordan always wore his North Carolina shorts under his Chicago Bulls uniform for good luck.

As a recently converted basketball fan I've noticed that most, if not all, players bounce the ball before a foul shot. I presume this is for good luck.

Some fishermen won't tell anyone how many fish they've caught until they are done for the day.

Even cooking has its own superstitious lore.

If a boy takes the last piece of bread from the plate, he must kiss the cook.

Eating bread baked by a woman whose married name is the same as her maiden name cures many illnesses.

Burning bread means the preacher is coming or your sweetheart is angry with you.

(If either one is coming for dinner, they'll need to stop off at Bashas or Safeway for a fresh loaf.)

As it is now five or more days beyond Friday the 13th, paraskevidekatriaphobics -- people afflicted with a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th -- may now breathe a temporary sigh of relief. Until Fri., Oct. 13, 2006.

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