In Honor of Friday The 13th We Present The History Behind 13 Popular Superstitions

It’s Friday the 13th and for your reading pleasure, here is a little background on the origins of 13 of the best known superstitions worldwide.
1. Horseshoe


Due to horseshoes having seven holes in them — a number that is considered lucky and divine — many people associate them with good fortune. According to the Arizona Republic, the iron in horseshoes was also considered to possess magical abilities — allowing the horseshoes to detour evil spirits that attempt to haunt your dreams.

2. Friday the 13th


The superstition of Friday the 13th has been around since the 19th century. One theory states that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that thirteen is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day.

3. Bird Droppings

Pigeon Poop.0

In many countries a bird pooping on you or your property is a sign of good luck and possible future riches.

4. Something Old, Something New. Something Borrowed and Something Blue 


This well-known wedding tradition is believed to have been created during the Victorian Era.

The older gift is said to represent continuity and the new item is a symbol of hope and the couple’s future. The borrowed item is for happiness and the blue item is said to bring love, purity and fidelity to the newlyweds’ relationship.

5. Black Cat


Songs, poems, movies and numerous last-minute Halloween costumes have been devoted to this timeless superstition. It is believed that if a black cat crosses your path, it is bad luck.

This idea was first introduced in the middle ages when it was thought that single women — usually of older ages — who were in close quarters with cats were believed to actually be witches who could transform themselves into the felines. This then led to the idea that a black cat walking in your path could possibly be a witch in disguise.

6. Crossing Your Fingers


Crossing your fingers is a gesture most people learn early on as a sign of good luck and sending positive vibes toward something in the future. This sign was used during Christian persecution in ancient times so that believers could identify other believers.

On the less wholesome side, the gesture has also been adopted to identify and excuse the act of telling a “white lie.”

7. The Number 13


The number 13 has been associated with bad luck for ages, leading many to take some pretty dramatic precautions to avoid the number. From architects designing buildings without 13th floors to people adding items to register totals that end in 13 cents, the number continues to strike worry and fear into superstitious individuals around the world.

8. Wishing On A Star


The origins of the superstition of wishing on the first start that you see in the evening or night sky remains cloudy. But some believe it may be a hybrid of similar ancient superstitions such as the Greeks’ belief that stars were the falling souls of humans and it was good luck to wish on them.

9. Breaking A Mirror

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Break a mirror and you are stuck with seven years of bad luck, says this well known superstition. Though there aren’t any solid leads to the history behind this myth, some attribute the superstition to the idea that mirrors are thought to be soul sucking devices. And that when you break a mirror, the trapped souls negatively alter your luck.

10. Four Leaf Clover


Another superstition that’s origins have been lost over time, this belief can be found throughout numerous cultures. The variations of activating the good luck power of the clover ranges from simply wearing it around your neck to actually having to devour it.

11. Ringing Bells


Bells have grown to be important parts of weddings and other important events. This is due to the belief that the sound of the ringing bells scares away evil spirits. This idea first originated during the reign of Queen Elizabeth as a means to ask for prayers for the souls of those who have died and scare away evil spirits that took up dwelled at the foot of the bed.

12. A Rabbit’s Foot

Hand Holding a Rabbit's Foot Key Chain

Good fortune is believed to be locked in the small package that is a rabbit’s foot. This superstition dates back to the seventh century BC and requires that the left foot of the rabbit be taken in order to harness the creatures magical powers.

13. Knocking On Wood


It’s a natural reaction for many to say “knock on wood” after making a statement they hope will come to fruition. This superstition is thought to come from an ancient belief that good, positive spirits live in trees. So, by knocking on a tree or object made of wood, it was believed you were directly calling on those spirits for protection.

Published by Larry Fire

I write an eclectic pop culture blog called THE FIRE WIRE that features articles about books, comics, music, movies, television, gadgets, posters, toys & more!

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