Friday, May 13, 2005

Very Superstitious? Not Us...

The local paper has an article about paraskevidekatriaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th. FYI, I will copy the text to the bottom of this post, since I hate having to sign up as a member to get free web content off of news sites...

We are not afraid around here. The Talker was born on Friday the 13th, as was Bro, a cousin and my Great Uncle. And they all turned out OK. The Talker will have Friday the 13th birthdays when he is 4 (2006), 10 (2012), 15 (2017), 21 (2023) and 32 (2034). Turning 21 on Friday the 13th? I doubt if I will want to know all of the details of that party. But I bet it will be more exciting than a celebration with camp co-workers in Stephenville, Texas and having to work with 100 kids doing summer camp leather crafts the next morning...

There's nothing wrong with avoiding black cats or feeling uneasy today (just don't forget to knock on wood)
By Katherine Boose, A.M. Jamison, Cassandra Scott


Friday, May 13, 2005

Welcome to Friday the 13th, the unfortunate combination of an unlucky day and unlucky number. If you have paraskevidekatria-phobia, or fear of Friday the 13th, you're probably still under the covers and not reading this.

Friday the 13th is just one of the more popular superstitions that permeates our culture and has remained with us through generations.

"I have two daughters adopted from China. I find I'm passing along my mother's -- and probably her great-great-great grandmother's -- superstitions to them," says Austinite Janelle Buchanan.

Charlie Rose Kuhn knows all about superstitions, thanks to her mother, Mary, who learned them from Charlie's late grandfather. "It is one of those things that you don't want to go against for some reason," says the 14-year-old from Florence.

Superstitions are like customs, says Tad Tuleja, a scholar in cultural anthropology and author of "Curious Customs" ($7.99, Galahad Books). "It's like comfort food -- (superstitions are) comfort gestures."

And they give people a sense of control over life's dangers. "We know intellectually that it won't make a difference, but it's just what you do," says Tuleja, who teaches expository writing at the University of Oklahoma.

Buchanan agrees.

"I am a well-educated -- I hold a master's degree -- well-traveled, well-read 52-year-old woman who leads a fairly sophisticated life. I know those old superstitions have no basis in reality; still, they have a place in my world."

Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to offset Friday the 13th. "Otherwise Friday the 13th would lose its power," Tuleja says.

The good news, though, is that if you can make it through today, you will have no more such days to endure in 2005. To help get you through, we've rounded up some of the most popular superstitions as well as some more unusual ones from readers.

If you see a comb on the ground, step on it. If you get a Reese's peanut butter cup in a double wrapper, rejoice.

Haven't heard of these superstitions? Neither had we, until we asked readers to share their favorite superstitions. Here are some of our favorites. And for Pete's sake, don't rename your dog.

The power of touch

I believe in people giving "the ojo" when they admire something you have. For example, if someone were to admire my necklace, I make them touch it, or if they admire my purse, they must touch it in order to keep something bad from happening. There have been times when the person didn't touch the item and the clasp broke on a necklace, or the purse strap broke.

-- Silvia Seelig, 43

A nose for visitors

My family is very superstitious.

* If a broom falls over, it means someone is coming to see you.

* If your nose itches, it means that someone is coming -- the right nostril for a female visitor and the left for a male visitor.

* If you name a dog and then change the dog's name, it will die.

* And if your farm animals wear bells, it will keep the demons away. All our goats wear bells.

-- Charlie Rose Kuhn, 14

Don't forget your buckeye

I grew up in northwest Arkansas, where superstitions ruled.

* Always stop a rocking chair from rocking when you get up from it.

* If you break a mirror, the only way to take off the curse is to bury the pieces during the dark phase of the moon.

* If rain falls while the sun shines, it will rain at the same time tomorrow.

* If you have to go back to your house to retrieve something you've forgotten, you must sit down for a second or two before leaving again.

* Carrying a buckeye in your pocket protects you from bad health in general and rheumatism in particular. This one was followed only by men, for some reason.

* It's not safe to consume milk and fried fish at the same meal.

* Laugh before breakfast, and you'll cry before supper.

-- Janelle Buchanan, 52

Bad luck out of the tap

In my home, we did the "knock on wood" routine so often that the cabinets needed repainting every six months. My mother enforced a litany of rituals to avoid bad luck:

* Drop a comb; step on it before picking it up.

* Don't drink directly from a tap.

* To avoid poverty, at midnight on New Year's Eve, you had to shake a handful of silver coins. Fortunately, coins contained real silver back then.

-- Hank Zeybel, 71

Find a penny . . .

I am typically not the superstitious type; however, I do have a couple of superstitions about money that I cannot break.

If I see any coin on the ground, I have to stop and pick it up and recite the phrase, "Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you'll have good luck." My 4-year-old daughter has learned the verse, and she follows the same routine. Of course, she puts the penny in her piggy bank.

-- Marrika Malley, 33

Don't forget your 'bread and butter'

My great-grandmother was a veritable fountain of information on the topic, and her superstitions have been passed down to me through the women in the family. Somehow, I feel a compulsive need to avoid the bad luck associated with some events.

* When two people are walking, they should always try not to separate to go around an object. If they do, they both have to say, "bread and butter." I have no idea why.

* If you break a mirror, you'll have seven years of bad luck, but if one piece is triangular, it cancels it out.

* Having a ladybug on your person is a sign of good luck.

* Getting two wrappers on a Reese's cup is good luck, although I think I might have made that one up as a child.

-- Alison Copeland, 26

Never on an empty stomach

I am the seventh of eight children. We were all at the breakfast table before we started off for the day. I recall all of us wanting to discuss our dreams at the table. My mother would not permit us to relate the dream before breakfast unless it was good news. The superstition was that if the story was told on an empty stomach, it could come true. I still hold myself to that superstition.

-- Zita Wanda Wright, 72

Leave your broom behind

I was raised with the following "beliefs":

* Never let a tall, inert thing (pole, fence, etc.) pass between you and a friend when you are walking together: It will break your love/friendship.

* Never give a knife as a gift -- it will cut the friendship.

* Never give a mirror as a gift -- it will make the recipient vain.

* Never take a broom from one house to another -- you carry the bad luck it swept up with you.

-- Sarretta McCaslin, 43

Hats off the bed

The following superstitions were passed down to me by my father. I still follow them today.

* Always leave a house or building through the same door you entered.

* It is bad luck to put a hat on the bed.

-- Bertha Baker, 71

Itchy left hand? Yay!

I have plenty of superstitions:

* If my right hand itches, I'll meet someone new. If my left hand itches, I'm coming into money.

* If someone dreams that I died, it's going to be a lucky day. Quick! Buy a lottery ticket.

-- Cindy Roosken, fortysomething

Global jinxes

The superstitions in this country are common in other parts of the world, too. The following are some of the very common ones:

* Always plant seeds before noon.

* If you allow spider webs to gather in abundance, there will be a death in the family.

* It is not appropriate to say that someone's child is big, beautiful, etc., as some people have evil eyes and make them sick.

-- Rex Arseculeratne, 74

Left shoe first

When I was 5 or 6, my grandad told me to always put my left shoe on first, then the right, or else I would have bad luck all day long. I am now 68 and still follow this axiom because . . . Well, it doesn't cost me anything, and who wants to take a chance on having bad luck?

-- Larry Drake, 68

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