Every once in a while, calendars align so the 13th day of the month falls on a Friday. This, to some, is a day that is almost guaranteed to be unlucky – a superstition that has arisen from a various theories and beliefs across the globe concerning the dreaded number 13. Officially diagnosed as friggatriskaidekaphobia, the fear affects millions of people per year, and although it is simply a superstition, some resort to drastic measures to preserve their safety. Friday 13th however, is not alone in the realm of superstitions, so to mark the occasion, here at AnOther we have compiled our Top 10 Strange Superstitions, to improve your chances on this unlucky day.
1. The mirror is a common recurrence in many myths and superstitions, the best known being that smashing a mirror will leave you with seven years of bad luck. It is also believed that if a mirror falls unaided in your house, death will come to a member of the household. But the most sinister superstitions state that the mirror is a gateway to the paranormal world, stealing souls and allowing all things beyond the grave to enter our world.
2. On New Years Eve in Spain, the locals indulge in an age-old ritual of eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight, one for each month of the year. The tradition is said to bring good luck, although, if you eat a sour grape, it signifies that the month will be a bad one.
3. Although it is clearly the nation's favourite drink, the way you drink your tea could result in a number of difference outcomes. Putting the milk in before the sugar means you will never marry, undisolved sugar at the bottom of a teacup signifies somebody is in love with you and it is all round bad luck if more than one person serves the tea.
4. In China, long noodles symbolise a long life; therefore it is unacceptable to cut up your noodles, as you will be cutting your life short.
5. Just as for many the number 13 is profoundly unlucky, Italians are struck dumb with terror by the number 17. The Roman numerals for 17 translate into Latin as "my life is over". Italian car manufacturer Renault were so superstitious they named their R17 model, R177 – just to be on the safe side.
6. It is considered a very bad idea to chew gum during the night in Turkey. They believe that chewing gum past sunset equates to chewing on the flesh of the dead.
7. Women in Ancient Britain carried acorns in their pocket, believing it kept them forever young. Oak trees were thought to ward off illness and encourage long life.
8. The belief that opals are unlucky stems from Sir Walter Scott’s 1829 novel, Anne of Geierstein. In the novel, the Baroness of Arnheim wears an opal around her neck that holds supernatural powers, but when a drop of holy water falls on the stone the Baroness dies soon after. In the year following the novel's publication, the sale of opals in Europe plummeted by 50%.
9. An intensely superstitious man, Charles Dickens was unable to begin writing until he had organised all the ornaments upon his desk into the perfect constellation of order.
10. In many cultures around the world, you are advised to hold your breath when passing a graveyard, to avoid sucking in the souls of the dead.
Text by Rhiannon Wastell