Well friends, it’s Friday the 13th! Here in the US (and many other Western cultures), that’s an unlucky day. But why? While it’s not always clear where these superstitions come from, it is fun to learn about them.

Why is Friday the 13th Unlucky?

Have you ever walked into an elevator of a large building and seen the floors go from 12 to 14? There’s a reason for that! It’s because the number 13 is considered unlucky. Therefore, many buildings don’t have an “official” 13th floor.

This is actually based on Christianity. During the Last Supper, Judas was apparently the 13th guest. And we all know how that turned out. Friday was also considered an unlucky day. It was the day people who were condemned to death were hanged (in fact, it was once known as hangman’s day). Need further proof? Good Friday was called ‘good’ as a way of distinguishing it from all the other Friday’s (which, I guess were bad.)

13 Superstitions You Might Not Know About

In honor of Friday the 13th, here are 13 other superstitions you might not be as familiar with.

1. Black Cats

Seeing a black cat is considered a sign of bad luck. This superstition goes back to the middle ages when people believed in witches. Apparently, witches could take the form of a black cat, so seeing one was an ominous symbol.

2. Spilled Salt

Spilling salt is also a bad omen—it means the devil is nearby. Luckily, there’s a quick fix. All you have to do is take a pinch of the spilled salt and toss it over your left shoulder and you’re in the clear. I’ll admit, this is one of those superstitions that I automatically do to this day.

3. Three’s

There’s a saying that bad things come in three’s. If two celebrities die in the same period of time, people tend to expect a third death.

4. Knock on Wood

Alright, here’s another one of the superstitions I follow. And I’d be willing to bet a lot of you do, too. If you said, “I’ve never broken a bone,” for example, you’d follow it up by knocking on wood.

That’s because talking about your own good fortune is like tempting fate (also known as a ‘jinx.’) To prevent evil spirits from hearing your statement and thus trying to reverse it, you’d knock on wood to cover up your speech.

5. Walking Under a Ladder

The idea of walking under a ladder being bad luck comes from ancient Egypt. When a ladder is leaned against a wall, it forms the shape of a triangle. And for the ancient Egyptians, triangles were seen as sacred. So, to pass under them was disrespecting the gods.

6. Opening an Umbrella

It’s bad luck to open an umbrella inside. Again, this one goes back to ancient Egypt when umbrellas were used as sun protection. Open an umbrella indoors, and away from the sun, was a disrespectful to the sun god.

7. Wishbone

After eating the Thanksgiving turkey, many families engage in the tradition of breaking the wishbone. Two people pull the wishbone and whoever gets the bigger piece gets to make a wish. Thus, wishbone’s have come to symbolize good luck on their own.

8. Hat’s on a Bed

Apparently it’s bad luck to put your hat on a bed, although the exact origins of this one is a little unclear.

9. Saying ‘Macbeth’ in a Theater

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is said to be cursed. Because of that, actors avoid saying the word ‘Macbeth’ whenever they’re in the theater. Instead, it’s referred to as ‘The Scottish Play.’

10. Seeing Your Doppelganger

Doppelgänger’s are sometimes viewed as an evil twin, so it’s no surprise that seeing one is a sign of misfortune. In fact, some believe that seeing your doppelgänger is an omen of death.  

11. Owl’s

Owl’s are considered a bad omen. In some cultures, they’re even considered a harbinger of death or sickness.

12. Breaking a Mirror

Breaking a mirror means seven years of bad luck. For ancient Romans, a mirror wasn’t just a reflection of your appearance but a representation of your soul. And, according to them, your soul would regenerate every seven years. Thus, breaking a mirror was equal to breaking your soul.

13. Blessing a Sneeze

When a person sneezes, it’s usually followed up by someone saying “Bless you.” For many, that’s just good manners. But in reality, it stems from previous superstitions! This comes from the belief that evil spirits could enter your body through a sneeze. So, saying “bless you” was a way of trying to ward off those evil spirits.

What other Superstitions are you familiar with? Let me know in the comments below!

11 Comments

  1. avatar

    I was familiar with all of these except the owls and sneezes! I didn’t know it was considered a bad omen to say bless you!

    1. avatar

      No, I think it’s bad luck if you don’t say “bless you,” lol.

  2. avatar

    I knew about/do all of these except for the one about the hats; that I didn’t know, haha!

    1. avatar

      Yes, that was a new one for me as well!

  3. avatar

    Happy Friday. I’m familiar with a few of these but not all and I didn’t know their origin stories. Very interesting and informative post. Thanks for sharing.

    1. avatar

      I always think it’s fun to trace myths, expressions, or superstitions back to their roots.

  4. avatar

    Great post honoring Friday the 13th. It’s great that you started with black cats because we actually grew up with two of them. Thank you for sharing.

    1. avatar

      I’ve heard that black cats are adopted less than other cats, and I definitely think that’s sad. Thanks for reading!

      1. avatar

        You’re welcome, and that is sad about black cats.

  5. avatar

    Happy Friday the 13th! I grew up with a superstitious family so I’m incredibly familiar with these ones. Thanks for sharing!

    1. avatar

      I did too – but I sometimes think I carry out the superstitions out of habit rather than genuine fear.

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About Author

30ish Lifestyle blogger, relationship "expert," and modern-day agony aunt.
Sometimes humorous, always honest.

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