It’s Friday 13th! The unluckiest day in the calendar! It’s well known that Friday 13th is an unlucky day, just as walking under a ladder is bad luck and so is breaking a mirror. But what about the other superstitions? We’ve compiled a list of thirteen superstitions from around the globe, past and present.
- Never give gloves as a present: You can, but you must receive something in return otherwise you will both have bad luck. Gloves have been surrounded by superstition since medieval times when Knights wore a lady’s glove in their helmets. It’s also bad luck to drop a glove and pick it up yourself, dating back from when women used to drop a glove and hope a prospective suitor would pick it up. Seems a bit inconvenient now, though.
- Eat grapes at midnight for good luck: In Spain, the superstitious eat twelve grapes at midnight to bring twelve months of good luck. What about twelve glasses of wine? Does that count?
- Tuck in your thumbs if you pass a graveyard: In Japan, if a Hearst passes you by or you walk by a graveyard, you have to tuck in your thumbs to protect your parents. Thumb translates literally to ‘parent-finger’ in Japanese, so by hiding it you are protecting your parents from death.
- The number four: In China, the word four almost exactly translates into the Chinese word for death, meaning that the number is avoided at all costs. Many buildings do not have a fourth floor, there are almost no fours on license plates and phone numbers, and buildings with multiple levels won’t have a level with a four in it.
- Never write names in red ink: In Korea, it is considered bad luck to write someone’s name in red ink, as it associates that person with death. Maybe this is why you have to do exams in black or blue ink.
- Don’t chew gum at night: In Turkey, if you chew gum at night it is thought that the gum turns into rotting flesh. Gross.
- Empty Buckets: An empty bucket or cart in Russia is considered a bad omen, due to the fact that Tsar Alexander II was assassinated by a man with empty buckets for hands. True story.
- Going to sleep with a fan on: In South Korea, if you fall asleep with a fan on its thought that you will die. No explanation as to how, but you will die. Many fans are sold with a timer on them, so they turn off before they can kill you.
- Carlos Menem: In Argentina, bad luck comes in the form of former Argentinean President, Carlos Menem. Saying his name will bring you bad luck, and anyone within earshot will do the equivalent of touching wood, which is holding their left breast or testicle. Interesting.
- Tilted windows: In 19th Century America, particularly in Vermont, houses were built with tilted windows because of the common belief that witches couldn’t fly their brooms into the tilted opening. I don’t know, Ginny Weasley was a great flyer.
- Don’t swim after you eat: Or go near any water, actually. According to Italian superstition, going near water less than 3-4 hours after you’ve eaten will kill you. Some don’t even shower for fear that they’ll die.
- Never take a photo with an odd number of people in it: In the Philippines it is thought that the odd one out in the photo will die. There’s also a superstition that if you take a picture of three people, the one in the middle will die.
- Don’t trip up in a graveyard: In Ireland, if you trip up in a graveyard it is widely believed that you’ll be a permanent resident by the end of the year.
There are thirteen crazy superstitions from around the world…happy Friday 13th!