The Number 13
The number 13 has such a bad rep. No one ever wants to use it in anything. There are no 13th floors marked on elevators, even though we all know that the 14th is still the 13th. You aren't supposed to invite 13 guests to dinner and even the Mayans hated the number. (That is the reason that they only counted eras to 12, hence the end of their calendar being in 2012) 13 even has it's own phobia: Triskaidekaphobia.
The initial reason for the abject fear of 13 comes from the Bible and the story of the Last Supper. In it, Jesus sits down to a meal with the 12 Apostles, making the total diners 13. We all know that meal ended poorly for two of the guests and thus poor 13 was forever cursed.
(There is another theory that the story actually dates back to the Nordic gods where a similar story is told about 12 gods being invited to dinner and Loki crashed. This caused a fight that left Baldur, the favorite son of Odin, dead. Interesting.)
The most infamous evil of 13 comes when the calendar aligns to cause a Friday the 13th. Fridays have been notoriously bad luck days biblically. Not only was Christ crucified on a Friday, but it was the same day Adam and Eve got the boot from Eden and the flood that killed everyone but Noah happened on a Friday as well. So think on that the next time you say "T.G.I.F.".
Black Cat Crossing Your Path
Though cats have been adored for ages by many ancient peoples including the Egyptians, Sumerians and Aunt Mildred, having a black cat cross your path is supposed to come with horrible consequences.
The thinking behind this started during the witch hunts. Witches were thought to be able to communicate with certain animals and make them do their bidding. The cat was the chief among those "familiars". A black cat was thought to be the worst as it was said to contain the soul of Satan himself. Therefore seeing a black cat meant that the devil was watching you.
Opening Umbrellas Indoors
While some of these superstitions could be considered a little crazy, some are actually quite practical. Really, one should never open an umbrella indoors. Not because of bad luck, but because it could seriously hurt someone.
There is a thought that this is actually where the superstition came from. The introduction was the mechanical umbrella happened in the Victorian Era of England. The first versions of it were made with stiff steel poles that, when opened indoors, could cause major injuries like cuts and possible eye loss. (I would call that pretty unlucky.)
While that might be the case, the myth goes all the way back to the ancient Egyptians who also had umbrellas, though back then they were parasols, made for blocking the sun instead of the rain. If you were to open one indoors, where there was no sun, it was considered an offence against the sun god Ra who would curse you for it.
While we all know that broken mirrors are a pain to clean up, it's the threat of the 7 years bad luck that keeps most of us from carelessly knocking them over.
Some people believe that the reason breaking a mirror causes all those years of bad luck comes from an age when mirrors were considered luxury items and the cost of replacing a broken one would be equal to 7 years of a peasants salary. The superstition actually extends back quite a bit further to the Romans.
In Roman times there was a special form of doctor that was part physician and part mystic. They would use mirrors to divine the health of their patients. (Kind of like an ancient xray I guess.) The doctor would fill a mirrored plate and glass with water and look at the reflection of the patient. If for some reason the reflection looked distorted the patient would be deemed ill. If, however, the mirror were to crack during the procedure, it would mean that they would be very sick for 7 years, the time the Romans believed it took for the human body to be completely renewed.
Hat On Bed
There are so many different things to do with hats indoors, from removing them as a sign of respect, to where to place them. It is a common thought that if a person places their hat on the bed, something horrible will happen to them.
This comes from the fact that the bed looks like a coffin and when a person or solider died, their clothes and armor were placed on the lid as a sign of respect. Another thought is that a priest will always wear their hat indoors except for when they have to change into their vestments to perform final rites on the dead.
Either way, it's only good manners to place your hat anywhere but the bed anyway.
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