Friday, April 13, 2012

Triskaidekaphobia - is the fear of the number 13

POEM - It's Friday the 13th Tomorrow

It's Friday the 13th tomorrow.
A black cat just leapt in my path.
I'm not superstitious, but this might
explain why I'm failing in math.

By chance I walked under a ladder
a teacher had placed by the wall.
In class my umbrella popped open,
and that's why I tripped in the hall.

The salt spilled this morning at breakfast.
While walking I stepped on a crack.
I took off my shoes on the table.
It looks like my future is black.

This evening I busted a mirror
which means that the next seven years
are due to be filled with misfortune,
catastrophes, mishaps and tears.

With all the bad luck I'm confronting,
it seems that I'm probably cursed.
It may be the 13th tomorrow.
But Thursday the 12th is the worst.
--Kenn Nesbitt (student)

When I was a child, the adults in my family would quote all of the common superstitions. I decided that I would not pass the superstitions along to my children as I did not believe them. This week I was driving and a black cat ran across the street in front of me, my immediate reaction was "Oh no, bad luck." Why, if I don't believe it can that thought still be in my subconscious ?

Common superstitions can be described as beliefs that have no rational basis. Some superstitions may be just for fun while others may affect you deeply enough to affect your choices in life. None of them are based in fact, but many have roots deep in tradition and history. Most of us probably don't even know why we give a little shudder when we see a Friday the 13th looming on the calendar.

Many of our common superstitions come with a colorful history or story that may date back centuries. If you would like to know why you shouldn't walk under a ladder or whether a black cat is really a creature to avoid, read on for the best list of common superstitions that are still a part of our culture and where they came from.

1. Friday the 13th – Bad Luck
A fear of the number 13 is one of the most common superstitions around, and is so 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 superstition is that Judas was the 13th guest at the Last Supper and that Christ was crucified on a Friday.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. Opening an Umbrella Inside – Bad Luck
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.

7. 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.

8. Tossing Spilled Salt over your left 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.

9. 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.

10. Saying "God Bless You" – Good Luck
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.

How Superstitious Are You?
Do you take great care with mirror glass? Would you never even dream of walking under a ladder? Well, aside from seeming eccentric in your avoidance of some pretty harmless things, you're also probably very superstitious. Though some people take certain age old beliefs as seriously as they do the law, there are varying degrees of superstition.

A few other familiar examples:

-The number 13 is "unlucky" and the numbers 7 and 9 are "lucky."
-It will bring you bad luck if you step on the cracks in a sidewalk.
-Finding a four-leaved clover will be a boon to your fortune.
-Triskaidekaphobia [tris-kahy-dek-uh-foh-bee-uh] is the fear of the number 13.
-Paraskevidekatriaphobics — people afflicted with a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th


My children have never heard me repeat a superstition to them as I wanted to break the cycle of believing in them. As I write this I wonder if I was successful - I'm guessing that they heard them from other sources anyway. That's how superstitions work!

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