Question: What is triskaidekaphobia?
Answer: Fear of the number 13.
Today is Friday 13th. Does that small sentence have an adverse effect on you? If so, you are superstitious! If you stay indoors all day and do as little as possible, you are very superstitious!
Friday 13th is known to be an unlucky day. If something bad happens on this day, then it will be remembered far more than on any other day. It’s a relatively new superstition. Separately, Friday and the number 13 have been unlucky for a long time, but there is no record of the two being referred to as especially unlucky before the 19th century.
Personally, I treat Friday 13th like any other day. However, I’m not completely immune to superstition. I always salute a solitary magpie – and I’ve no idea why I do it or how I came across it in the first place! As I am writing this blog, I am thinking of all the superstitions that I’m familiar with – it’s surprising how many are stored away. A quick check with my colleagues at Education Quizzes and it seems everyone knows at least half a dozen. Black cats (I’m never sure whether they are lucky or unlucky!), touch wood, shoes on the table, 4-leaved clover, red sky at night, throwing salt over the shoulder, breaking a mirror and so on. When I was young, I used to chant, “If you step on a crack, you’ll marry a bat and a bumblebee will come to your wedding” as I avoided the cracks in the pavement.
Reading the Wikipedia page about superstition is interesting, particularly the psychology section. If we believe that Friday 13th is unlucky, then are we more prone to have accidents? I think so. Of course, this is also true of good luck. Believe we will win and perhaps purely having that belief gives us the edge. Then again, believe we will win the lottery and I’m not so convinced that belief will help!
How many superstitions do you know? Do you believe any? What about your children? Have they been taught any at school? Why not find out if superstitions are still popular today by starting a discussion with your children on, appropriately enough, Friday 13th!