Weird World
Do You Believe?

Uncovering the meaning behind some of these common superstitions
  • 18 Nov - 24 Nov, 2017
  • Mag The Weekly
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Superstitious sailors ahoy!

Some seafarers believe that a ship with a name ending with the letter ‘A’ will bring bad luck. It is thought that this superstition came about with the sinking of the Lusitania and Britannia during the First World War. It is also believed that changing a ship’s name will cause bad luck to befall it. Sailors believe that once a ship is named and inaugurated, it has a personality and life of its own. If a new name must be given, a ‘de-naming’ event is required. The existing name must be put in a wooden box, which must then be burnt. The remains of the burnt box must be scattered into the ocean.

Cross your fingers, worth a try!

The superstition that crossing your fingers for luck dates back to the early centuries of the Catholic Church, when many Christians would cross their fingers to invoke the power associated with Christ’s cross for protection. When Christians were persecuted by the Romans, many people used the symbol of crossed fingers in order to recognise one another without being noticed. Today it is still widely used as a symbol of good luck, although it is most probably done as of a habit nowadays.

Seven years sentence disaster

The origin of the ‘break a mirror, face seven years of bad luck’ superstition can be traced back to the Romans, who were the first to create glass mirrors. Today, many cultures believe that a mirror has the power to trap part of the user’s soul, and so if their reflection becomes distorted in any way, this could mean a corruption of the soul. To make matters worse, if the user should break a mirror, it would mean his or her soul would be trapped inside the weird world the mirror represented. Essentially, a broken mirror created a broken soul, which in turn leads to broken health. The Romans also believed that a person’s physical body renewed itself every seven years, meaning it would take this long for the soul to be restored. Fortunately, there is a way to counteract the bad luck. Since the pieces of a broken mirror still reflect the corrupted soul, the entire mirror should be ground into dust – No reflection, no problem.

The devil’s dozen – 13, unlucky for some

The belief that Friday the 13th is unlucky is one of the most widely known superstitions in the world and is actually a combination of two fears – the fear of the number 13, called triskaidekaphobia, and the fear of Fridays as unlucky, as Christ was crucified on this day, while the belief that there were always 13 witches in a coven lead to a fear of this dreaded number. Throughout history, the number 13 has taken on many, unlucky forms. Turkish legend has it that if 13 people sit down to dinner together, one of them will die within the year. Even today, many cities don’t have a 13th Street and most buildings don’t have a 13th floor. Superstition also states that if you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil’s luck, think Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, and Jeffry Dahmer.

Black cat crossing your path

In many cultures, a black cat crossing your path is a really bad omen. The superstition comes from the belief that witches would transform themselves into black cats in order to prowl the streets unobserved. Even today, the association of black cats with witches holds strong, especially during Halloween. Unfortunately, this superstition seems to be more bad luck for the poor black cats than for anyone who encounters them!

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Hosts of angels shh…

Have you ever been among a group of people, all talking at the same time, and then suddenly there’s a moment of awkward silence that comes out of nowhere? A global superstition is that these awkward silences happen exactly 20 minutes past the hour, with many believing that this is the time that angels start singing and humans naturally stop their conversations to turn their attention to the beautiful sound. The superstition is thought to have started out as a quote by poet Dylan Thomas. ‘A host of angels must be passing by. What a silence there is!’

Look to the skies total eclipse

Superstitions around eclipses go far back and have many origins. The Vikings believed that two large wolves were chasing the sun and the moon, and that at the moment an eclipse took place, the wolves caught up with these celestial bodies. Ancient Chinese communities believed that a dragon was trying to eat the sun and that this was the cause of a total blackout during a solar eclipse. Even today, solar and lunar eclipses are surrounded by superstition. In India, it is believed that all leftover food during an eclipse should be thrown away because it is no longer safe to eat, while in Nigeria, many view an eclipse as God’s anger towards a sinful nation.

Walking under a ladder – a higher meaning

The superstition that walking under a ladder brings bad luck has religious roots in Christianity, stemming from the idea that a ladder leaning against a wall forms a triangle suggesting the Holy Trinity. The belief is that walking through this triangle is a sign of disrespect, and therefore a source of bad luck. It may however just be a general concern over the probability of an accident occurring underneath the ladder while someone is standing on top.