Friday, September 13, 2013

Do You Suffer from Triskaidekaphobia?

We have only two Friday the 13ths to get through this year of 2013 and while I think, Friday the 13th is a quaint superstition to get around, there are a lot of folks who won't even get out of bed today.   I searched the Internet when I was trying to find a slant on this day and superstitions in general.   I understand that a lot of superstition is certainly cultural, but much of it is really confirmation bias.  I wore that shirt and had good luck so it must be my lucky shirt, shoes or even underwear. Mr BC  suffers from this delusion with his lucky driving pants.

I don't fear the day and I thought I was not particularly superstitious. But what follows are some example of beliefs participated in during my youth or even today that I found by cruising the Internet.*  I don't fear Friday the 13, Friggatriskaidekaphobia, but I guess I still am a little superstitious, but I mostly believe in Karma,

Bad luck comes in threes
Remember confirmation bias? The belief that bad luck comes in threes is a classic example. A couple things go wrong, and believers may start to look for the next bit of bad luck. A lost shoe might be forgotten one day, but seen as the third in a series of bad breaks the next.  I have many times said aloud, when a second someone of importance or fame dies.  "Well that's two!"

Knock on Wood
The fixation on wood may come from old myths about good spirits in trees or from an association with the Christian cross. Similar phrases abound in multiple languages, suggesting that the desire not to upset a spiteful universe is very common. I tend to knock on my Head instead of wood now days.

This was a common argument among our kids.
Make a wish on a wishbone
The tradition of turkey bone tug-of-war goes back a long way. Legend has it that first-century Romans used to fight over dried wishbones — which they believed were good luck — and would accidentally break them, ushering in the idea that whoever has the largest bit of bone gets their wish. Bird bones have also been used in divination throughout history, with a supposed soothsayer throwing the bones and reading their patterns to predict the future.

Cross your fingers
Those wishing for luck will often cross one finger over another, a gesture that's said to date back to early Christianity. The story goes that two people used to cross index fingers when making a wish, a symbol of support from a friend to the person making the wish. (Anything associated with the shape of the Christian cross was thought to  be good luck.) The tradition gradually became something people could do on their own; these days, just saying "fingers crossed" is enough to get the message, well, across.  There is even an emoticon.

*Courtesy of LiveScience


  1. I must admit that I do believe bad luck comes in threes. Apparently I AM a bit superstitious.

  2. I knock on wood regularly and in my experience bad luck does come in threes.
    Cute post.