Happy Friday the 13th! If you currently have a death grip on your lucky rabbit's foot, you're one of the estimated ten percent of Americans who believe misfortune will befall them on this day. Friday the 13th is something of a lightning rod for superstition. Whatever the reason, it's one of many objects, places, and experiences that are believed to influence one's luck, good or bad. However, if the calendar isn't your bugaboo, maybe one of these will make your personal list.
Much of the superstition surrounding mirrors is rooted in the belief that mirrors "reflect the soul." Breaking a mirror brings seven years of bad luck because the soul reflected in the mirror becomes fractured and requires seven years to rejuvenate.
If a household mirror breaks on its own, say, by falling off a wall, it's believed to portend the death of someone in the household. Should said death actually come to pass, be sure to cover all the other mirrors in the house so the dearly departed's soul does not become forever trapped in a mirror.
In Geekdom: In the 1985 film Fright Night (last year's was a remake), Charlie Brewster used a mirror to confirm his suspicion that the man living next door was actually a vampire.
The number thirteen is generally believed to be unlucky, regardless of the day. Fear of the number 666 is biblical in origin. The number is associated with a great force for evil in the world. To be afraid of this number is to have hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan may be the most famous sufferer of this phobia. Reportedly, Mrs. Reagan had the address of her post-White House home changed from 666 to 668 St. Cloud Road.
The number seven fares much better in the realm of superstition, usually being considered a lucky number. Seven is often associated divinity, but even in the secular realm, particularly in gambling, the number is a harbinger of good things. "Seven the hard way" pays out in Craps, 777 is a winner at Slots, and 7x3=21, aka Blackjack.
In Geekdom: The Omen movie franchise, about the birth of the demonic so-called Anti-Christ, helped popularize the idea of 666 being "the mark of the beast."
Humanity has long had a love-hate relationship with our feline friends. Though revered in some cultures, like ancient Egypt, cats were equally reviled in medieval Europe. Black cats in particular are associated with luck, but no one agrees on what kind of luck. Most days, having one cross your path is bad, but seeing a black cat on your wedding day is good. Go figure?
All manner of uncanny abilities have been attributed to cats ranging from the benign prediction of weather, to the sinister stealing of children's breath.
In Geekdom: In the Harry Potter series Professor Minerva McGonagall, Hogwart's Transfiguration teacher, is an Animagus who can transform into a cat.
Some legends hold that metal is a gift from the gods, so randomly finding a coin in general, or a penny in particular, brings good luck. Before you scoop up your fortuitous find, though, check that the penny is showing heads, because a tails-up penny is bad luck.
In Geekdom: When the titular Goonies in the 1985 film found a bevy of coins in a cavern beneath a wishing well, Corey Feldman's character, Mouth, reclaimed his "wish" because it never came true.
Few moments in a person's life are as fraught with superstition as his or her wedding day. One's luck is believed to depend on the month of the year or day of the week the ceremony takes place, or the color the bride wears. Additionally, a couple will have good fortune if the bride is given something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. But the union is doomed if the groom sees the bride in her dress before the ceremony in some cultures.
Weddings are unique in the world of superstitions for their believed utility in predicting the future. The woman who catches the bride's bouquet and the man who catches the bride's garter will be the next to marry, though not necessarily to each other. If a woman who attends a wedding sleeps with a bit of the wedding cake under her pillow, she'll dream of her future husband.
In Geekdom: One of the most superstitious characters that has ever been on television appeared on the sitcom Cheers. The heavily pregnant Carla Tortelli almost called of her wedding to the father of her twins when the conditions of her numerous superstitions were not met.
What superstitions are you afraid of?