Thirteen strange superstitions to celebrate Friday the 13th

Today is the second time in 2017 that we've experienced a Friday the 13th. Source: Getty

If you see people crossing the road to avoid walking under ladders or running away from black cats today, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you.

Yes, today is one of the unluckiest dates on the calendar, which typically sends millions of superstitious people around the globe into a state of panic.

Friday the 13th has been spooking people out for centuries, so it’s no surprise we end up doing some inexplicable things in the name of avoiding ‘bad luck’, having learned them as children from our parents or grandparents. Which ones do you do?

1. Avoid sitting at the corner of a table

If Russian folklore is to be believed, sitting at the corner of a table is terribly bad luck for people who aren’t married. Many believe that anyone who does this will never get hitched. It’s probably best to keep your grandchildren away from those table corners, just in case.

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Others hate having 13 people at a table – at the posh Savoy hotel in London, the management will even provide a large ceramic cat named Caspar to sit at the table, complete with full table setting, to make up a 14th guest. 

2. Being pooed on by a bird is good luck

As people who’ve been crapped on by a bird numerous times, we’re not convinced that this is an entirely accurate superstition. Many believe that you’ll become richer if a drop of poo lands on you – but we’re still writing stories for a living!

3. Breaking mirrors

If you don’t want bad luck hanging over you, you’re going to want to be extra careful around mirrors – Ancient Romans believed that you’ll be haunted with seven years of bad luck if this happens.

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4. Snapping a wish bone

Do you remember your parents cutting out the wishbone of a chicken during a Sunday roast dinner and then challenging someone at the dinner table to break off the biggest piece? For thousands of years, many believe snapping off the larger piece of bone would result in a wish coming true.

5. Never give a purse or wallet without money

Despite the fact that you’ve already forked out cash for a new wallet or purse as a gift, you might not want to hand it over empty. Many say doing this will mean the recipient will never have money.

6. Crossing your fingers for good luck

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We’ve all been in an intense situation where we’re expecting some news and cross our fingers in hopes it won’t be bad. It is believed that the tradition originally started back in the 14th century.

7. Don’t toast with water

We’re not sure why you would want to anyway, but it’s said to be bad luck to toast with water. German superstition states that you’re actually wishing death on someone if you do this.

8. Itchy hands

Did you know that itchy palms are linked to both good and bad superstition? Apparently if your left palm is itchy, it means you’ll be giving money away, while a scratchy right palm means you’ll be coming into money.

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9. Putting new shoes on a table is bad luck

If you’ve ever come home from shopping and placed a new pair of shoes on the table, chances are a loved one has told you off because it’s bad luck (or because they don’t want shoes, however clean, near their food). Many believe this superstition started when the footwear of dead miners was placed on tables.

10. Knocking on wood

No, we’re not talking about the hit song by Amii Stewart, but rather the habit of people knocking on wood to avoid bad luck. Many believe that good spirits live in trees and that by knocking on wood, you’re seeking guidance from them.

11. Magpies

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With magpie swooping season in full swing in Australia, you’d be excused for thinking these birds are always unlucky. Throughout the UK, many people believe coming across a single magpie is particularly bad luck, but that this can be reversed if you tip your hat. We’ll have to remember that next time we come between a mother magpie and her nest, though taking off our hat might not be the wisest move!

12. Clipping toenails at night

For many Japanese people, cutting your toenails at night is a major no-no. Japanese superstition suggests that doing so is not only dangerous, but can lead to an early death.

13. Black cats

What is it about black cats that is so eerie and scary? Many actually link their bad luck to European times when old women who had black cats were accused of witchery.

Are you superstitious? Has anything bad ever happened to you on Friday the 13th?