Friday the 13th: Family Superstitions

Posted November 13, 2015 by Amanda | No Comment

Does your family have any superstitions? Did your ancestors? Often times, superstitions are passed down through multiple generations in a family.

Friday the 13th: Family Superstitions

Today is Friday the 13th, which many believe to be a day of bad luck. The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia. The superstition that every Friday the 13th is bad luck dates back many years, with some believing it arose during the Middle Ages.

Here’s a look at 13 old superstitions on this Friday the 13th:

1. Spilling salt

Some believe spilling salt is an evil omen that will give the person bad luck or even worse, invite the devil in. The only way to ward off the evil is to toss a bit of salt with your right hand over your left shoulder. This belief is quite old, possibly dating as far back as ancient Rome, when salt was still quite the commodity.

2. Don’t walk under a ladder

The belief is that walking under a ladder will bring you bad luck. There are several theories as to the origins of this superstition. One theory states that the triangle-shape made by a ladder against a wall symbolizes the Holy Trinity, so walking through would be considered a desecration. During the medieval times, a ladder symbolized the gallows, where people were executed by hanging. It was believed that if someone walked beneath a ladder, it would mean the person would soon meet their own death.

If one were to accidentally walk beneath a ladder, they would need to walk back through the ladder backwards to ward off the bad luck.

3. Umbrellas

Opening an umbrella indoors is considered bad luck and must be avoided. There are multiple theories as to the origin of this superstition. Some say it can be traced back to the early Egyptians, who used umbrellas to protect nobility from the sun’s rays. It was also thought to ward off evil spirits. It was believed that to open an umbrella inside would offend the God of the Sun.

An alternate theory dates to 18th century England, when umbrellas were popularized. At the time, umbrellas were large and awkward to open, so opening them inside in a small space could cause harm or injury to those around.

4. Broken mirror

There are many who believe that breaking a mirror would mean seven years of bad luck. The ‘broken mirror’ superstition dates back to the ancient Romans and can be found in many different cultures. It was believed that a mirror could hold a piece of a person’s soul in the reflection. Therefore, when the mirror is shattered, so is the person’s soul.

Some say that to avoid the bad luck, you will need to pick up the broken pieces and bury them underground and under the moonlight.

5. Rocking chairs

An old Irish superstition says it is bad luck to rock an empty rocking chair. If you do, it would bring death to your family. It is also believed by some that by rocking the chair, you are inviting evil sprits to occupy the seat and your home. On that note, if you see the chair rocking on its own, then it means there is probably a spirit already occupying the seat!

6. Black cats

If a black cat crosses your path, expect bad luck to come to you. It’s possible the superstition of black cats began in the Middle Ages, when it was believed witches could take the form of a black cat. However, not everyone believed a black cat was an omen. Ancient Egyptians believed all cats were sacred and a sign of good luck.

7. Stepping on a crack

You may have heard this phrase before, “Step on a crack and break your mother’s back.” It accompanies the belief that stepping on a crack in the pavement would result in misfortune and bad luck.

8. Horseshoes

Horseshoes are believed to be signs of good luck and even a protective talisman. Some may say that a horseshoe must be hung with the ends pointing up for good luck. This is because the u-shape acts as a storage for good luck and if it is hung upside down, you will have bad luck because the good luck will have fallen out.

9. Crossing your fingers

Want some good luck? Cross your fingers! A popular and common superstition is to cross your fingers to wish for good luck. Even people who don’t consider themselves superstitious will cross their fingers. One theory says that crossing fingers was a shorthanded way to show the sign of the cross. Therefore, it could be used to ward off evil spirits or protect against danger. It was a way of gaining the assistance of the divine in times when it was most needed.

10. Three on a match

It is said that no three cigarettes should be lit by the same match. The superstition is believed to have originated during World War I. It is said that when the first soldier lights a cigarette off a match, an enemy sees it. When he lights the second cigarette, the enemy aims, and by the third cigarette, the enemy fires.

11. Knock on wood

To avoid tempting fate, knock on wood. This common superstition is often done after someone has made a favorable observation, a boast or a declaration of one’s own death or unfavorable situation beyond one’s control. It is believed to have stemmed from germanic folklore, where dryads, believed to live in trees, could be called upon for protection.

12. Chopsticks

According to many Asian cultures, chopsticks should never be stuck upright into a bowl of rice. To do so would bring you bad luck. It is said that upright chopsticks resemble the incense that family members burn to mourn a dead relative. Chopsticks are to only be stuck upright in a rice bowl on an alter at a funeral.

13. The wrong side of the bed

There are several superstitions about getting up from the “wrong side” of the bed. One superstition says if you climb into bed on the right side, avoid getting out of bed on the left. Failure to get out of the bed on the same side you entered will result in bad luck.

What superstitions does your family believe?

Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Marketing Communications Manager at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

See all posts by