Friday the 13th – British superstitions
So if you find yourself in some bad luck tomorrow, you may not be alone. Friday the 13th is arguably the most feared day of the year for some British people. This is due to its association with tragic accidents and spooky coincidences. Some call it superstitious, but the infamous day of bad luck has caused such stir that others have claimed to develop a fear of Friday the 13th called paraskevidekatriaphobia, and even a fear of just the number 13 which is called triskaidekaphobia.
Did you know? British Hotels will rarely have a 13th room and Ryanair have reported that none of their planes include row 13 in order to avoid triggering those with such phobias.
The superstitions originate from unlucky associations in history such as there being 13 steps up to the gallows in medieval times, with public hangings conventionally occurring on a Friday. Other examples are that there were traditionally 13 members in a witch’s coven, and 13 members at the Last Supper of Jesus before he was crucified the next day – Good Friday.
Suspicious Days in other countries:
Other countries have similar superstitious days of the year. For example Tuesday the 13th is a day of bad luck for many Spanish-speaking countries as well as Greece, and in Italy bad luck seems to fall on Friday the 17. The unluckiest day of the year in China is April 4th (4/4) due to the number four sounding incredibly similar to their word for death. Similarly in Japan, September 9th (9/9) is unlucky because of the word nine sounds close to the word for suffering.
Other British superstitions:
There are a few other common British superstitions surrounding bad luck. For example, breaking a mirror supposedly means you will have bad luck for 7 years Yes, YEARS. Stepping on cracks in the pavement or on a triple drain are meant to be unlucky, as is opening an umbrella indoors. Similarly, a single lone magpie is meant to be a sign of bad luck and sorrow, whereas seeing two magpies will bring joy. This superstition comes from an 18th century poem:
One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl
Four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a secret, never to be told
To avoid bad luck tomorrow…
You may see many Brits “touching wood” which has a few possible theories behind it. Some believe that it comes from Pagan times where they believed mystical creatures and spirits lived in trees and therefore touching wood was asking them for good luck. Another possible explanation is that it represents touching the wood of the Cross where Jesus was crucified to call on protection from God. Similarly, keeping your fingers crossed is thought to originate from making the sign of the Cross, again for God to not give them any bad luck.