On this Friday the 13th we dedicate a special edition of the Follies to those widely held, often unjustified beliefs called superstitions. Even skeptics like me can find themselves the victims of nonsensical, mystical rules someone suggests we should live by. I knock on wood even though it hurts my knuckles when I do. I enter and exit a house through the same door because most people I visit are friends or family and in case the luck thing is true I don’t want to be responsible for taking theirs with me. I also say “God bless you” when people sneeze, a practice that originated with the belief that a sneeze might accidentally expel a person’s soul, a belief I don’t subscribe to. And then there are many such superstitions I don’t bother with…
“If a black cat crosses your path, it signifies that the animal is going somewhere.” – Groucho Marx
…and others that are often reinforced…
As in when Joseph Newton (Henry Travers) tells Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten) that hats on beds are bad luck in Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943). Uncle Charlie doesn’t listen and throws his hat on the bed and…well, he has a less-than-happy ending. Oh well.
Here is a list of superstitions that I’ve heard of most often followed by a slideshow of superstitious images and much more:
- Hat on bed
- Salt over the shoulder after spilling
- The dreaded broken mirror
- Opening an umbrella indoors
- Turning a broom upside down to get rid of unwanted visitors
- Knocking on wood
- Rocking an empty rocking chair
- Entering/exiting through the same door
- Black cat crossing your path
- Seeing an owl in daylight
- Crossing fingers for luck
- Good luck charms
- Three on a match
- Putting your purse on the floor
- Stepping on cracks
- FRIDAY THE 13TH
Why not listen to Dooley Wilson Knocking on Wood in Casablanca (1942).
You might also like this 1947 Paramount Noveltoon release, The Stupidstitious Cat, which covers the bases on superstitions in a day in the life of a cat determined to be lucky:
For your enjoyment here are a few episodes of the 1935 radio filler series, “Origins of Superstition,” fascinating tales that will enlighten you.
“The Boogey Man”
“Friday the 13th”
“Walking Beneath a Ladder”
More superstitious topics of interest:
Theater Superstitions as noted Backstage.
From Styleblazer – Tragedy, Coincidence And Superstition In Hollywood: 15 Famous Films That Were Allegedly Cursed
From the Horror Society here are Horror Movie Superstitions
MetroLyrics offers a list of 15 Superstitious Songs for Friday the 13th.
Friday the 13th On a Full Moon – “Lights Out Everybody”
From Palm Beach Post: What’s So Unlucky About 13?
I wouldn’t feel right to leave you with a sense of pending doom on this day or any other. So if you feel you’ve had bad luck of late or would like to have a particularly lucky Friday the 13th you might want to peruse these:
7 Get-Lucky Cocktails in New Orleans
12 Lucky Charms to Attract Good Luck from The Balance
More spells to get rid of bad luck from Rituals of Magic
Or you can just look at Elvis Presley as Lucky Jackson in Viva Las Vegas (1964)…
It must be my lucky day. I’ve never before seen a cartoon cat and a bird who sound like Mr. Benny and Rochester.
We say “God bless” so automatically after someone sneezes, that Gavin has picked it up and says it after he sneezes. Not after anyone else sneezes, just himself.
Love that and Gavin!! I must confess something then. If I sneeze and no one is around to bless me I DO bless myself. Just in case.