Friday February 13, 2004

Friday The 13th

...Friday the 13th, black cats, broken mirrors, spilled salt,
wishing wells, shooting stars, horseshoes, four-leaf clovers,
a rabbit's foot, 7 years of luck (good or bad)...

The Friday 5 for this week discusses... (Doo DOO Doo doooo) superstitions!

  1. Are you superstitious?
  2. What extremes have you heard of someone going to in the name of superstition?
  3. Believer or not, what's your favorite superstition?
  4. Do you believe in luck? If yes, do you have a lucky number/article of clothing/ritual?
  5. Do you believe in astrology? Why or why not?

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

      — Hamlet, Act 1, Scene V

I don't consider myself to be superstitious, at least, no more so than any other programmer. :-) Programmers have their own superstitions, usually something along the lines of "it finally worked when I held the mouse in this position so this is the way I hold the mouse now".

I don't believe in most of the "standard" superstitions. I do avoid walking under ladders (something could fall off; this is a wise superstition). Breaking a mirror may not cause 7 years of bad luck (as it was said to do back in the time when mirrors were extremely valuable) but it's still messy and hazardous with all of that glass to clean up.

If I was concerned about having a black cat cross my path, I'd be extremely unlucky; one of my best friends is a black cat who crosses my path many times a day! (I suppose this could be very unlucky if I don't watch where I'm going. I could trip over him!)

Sadly, more black cats are injured around Halloween than at any other time of year. Breeders, SPCAs, and other shelters often refuse to adopt out black cats in the month before Halloween, exercising extra caution.

Although I don't know anyone personally who has done so, I have heard of people not going out (or refusing to make appointments) for Friday the 13th. Hotels, of course, frequently "skip" the 13th floor (they have one, of course, but they number it 14). I've heard of people avoiding having 13 guests for dinner parties.

One of the best superstition stories I've heard was about the physicist Niels Bohr.

Above the front door of his country cottage in Tisvilde [Bohr] nailed a horseshoe, which is proverbially instrumental in bringing luck. Seeing it, a visitor exclaimed: "Being as great a scientist as you are, do you really believe that a horseshoe above the entrance to a home brings luck?" "No," answered Bohr, "I certainly do not believe in this superstition. But you know," he added with a smile, "they say it does bring luck even if you don't believe in it!"

(G. Gamow, Thirty Years That Shook Physics, Heinemann, 1966)

I don't believe in astrology — there are simply too many people born in the same year or under the "same sign" and they are none of them alike in any way! I do believe in luck, or Fate, but not in "lucky charms" (aside from the cereal :-) nor in lucky clothing, hats, coins, stones, numbers... However, if you believe in them, well, "they say it does bring luck even if you don't believe in it!". I don't have a "lucky number", but for some reason I am partial to 7, 17, and 27. This is not to say I'd play those in the lottery, but then, I don't play the lottery with any numbers.

Spouse and self often talk about "parking karma". For many years, I had decided that my particular parking karma was that the person I was following around the block or through the parking lot would get a spot! We had a friend who always tried for a spot in front of the restaurant (or whatever building he was going to). Somehow, he seemed to succeed fairly regularly, either through Luck or incredible self-confidence :-) Our friend died about 10 years ago and... oddly... my parking karma has improved since then. In a funny way, we believe Jim "willed us" his Luck. I actually get spots near the building now. Life is strange. When we do, we remember to thank our friend for the gift. ('they say it works...").

My personal favorite superstition, of course, (shared by all adopters of black cats) is that black cats bring good luck. This isn't an unusual view; historically, in England and Scotland, black cats have always been considered to be omens of good, not bad, luck. According to the History of the Black Cat, "it is good luck to allow a stray black cat into your home if it wishes to enter, but bad luck to drive it away." I'm quite convinced that Raven wanted to enter our home and join our family; we certainly consider ourselves most lucky to have him!

Friday The 13th ( in category Memes & Prompts ) - posted at Fri, 13 Feb, 13:23 Pacific | «e»