the 13th is an unlucky day, breaking a mirror brings seven years
of bad luck… all these superstitious beliefs are common ones that
we hear of today. However, do you know that superstitions were common
since many centuries ago, during the time of the ancient civilizations?
number 13 has long been considered as an unlucky number by the Egyptians
and the ancient Chinese. Why was this so then? Some experts believed
that this was due to the fact that the people of the past knew how
to count using only their 10 fingers and 2 feet which would add
up to a maximum total of 12. Thus, after the number 12, the immediate
next of which would be 13, was unknown and thus frightening to them.
Even today, this number is regarded as unlucky, note how most hotels
do not have a 13th floor - the count goes from 12 to 14!
for the breaking of a mirror, it was long considered unlucky in
ancient Greece and Rome. In ancient Greece for example, it was believed
that one saw the will of the gods in the mirror. Thus, if a mirror
was broken unintentionally, it indicated that the gods did not want
the person to see the future as it held unpleasant things! To the
ancient Romans, the mirror reflected the health of a person and
breaking it meant 'breaking' one's health for 7 years!
superstition that if a black cat crosses one's path, one would be
down with bad luck also dates back to the ancient times. This was
because black cats were associated with witchcraft and were believed
to be witches in disguise. Strangely enough though, the ancient
Egyptians worshipped the cat and considered it to be sacred! They
even had a goddess called Pasht who had the head of a cat and had
9 lives. When a cat died, the mummy of the cat was preserved and
a cemetery which had been discovered by archaeologists showed that
it contained thousands of mummies of black cats!
gems were believed to bring good luck to the person who carry it.
For instance, the ancient Chinese made their children wear jade
bracelets or anklets for protection against harm. The ancient Indians
on the other hand, considered pearls to be lucky stones that could
protect them against evil. The garnet was also worn to make its
wearer immune to injury.
salt has also been thought to bring bad luck, even to some today.
Why was this so? Salt was very important especially in Rome as it
was used to preserve and purify food. It also served to be the soldiers'
salary, of which salary meant "salt money." Thus, to spill salt
would be a great waste and bad luck would befall the person who
did so. This could be counteracted though, by throwing a pinch of
salt it over the left shoulder into the face of the devil, who is
supposedly poised there.
colour red was a colour of good luck to the Chinese, both of the
past and the present. During the Lunar New Year, married Chinese
would give their children, friends and relatives red packets filled
with money as a symbol of good luck, as the colour red symbolises
fire which is used to scare away evil spirits.
types of superstitions there are in the past and today are indeed
uncountable. Why do you think people believe in superstitions? Do
they really come true? What other superstitions do you know?
unlucky number 13
The black cat--associated with bad luck
used to be burnt at the stake.