Superstitious or not, almost everyone takes note when it’s Friday the 13th. People are more careful crossing the road, pouring hot coffee, or walking down the stairs. It may be silly, but it's all to ward off bad luck, and the Irish are big believers in this kind of caution.
On Friday the 13th some people even take to their beds or refuse to leave the house. Believe it or believe it not this behavior is actually a diagnosed phobia of Friday the 13th called "Paraskevidekatriaphobia."
It’s not certain where the superstition about Friday the 13th comes from, but one of the most common theories is that there were 13 people at the Last Supper and Christ died on Good Friday, hence Friday the 13th. There are also Spanish, Norse and Old English theories, but this is one of the most quoted.
There’s not much you can do about Friday the 13th, but there are some old Irish superstitions you can take note of to avoid some bad luck. You never know but they might come in handy and allow you avoid a little extra pain coming into the weekend.
Superstitions on Death
- If you trip and fall in a graveyard you will most likely die by the end of the year.
- If you meet a funeral on the road you must turn and walk with the funeral party for at least four steps to warn off bad luck.
- If you open your front door and are greeted by a magpie and it looks at you there is absolutely nothing you can do – this is a sure sign of death.
- A black cat crossing your path is very bad luck. To counteract this make a triangle shape using your thumbs and forefingers and spit at the cat through the hole. This will also work when you accidentally walk under a ladder.
- If a rooster comes to the threshold of your house and crows then you can expect visitors.
- If you see three magpies on the road it is very unlucky, but if you see two of them on your right-hand side then that it’s good luck.
- If you kill a robin redbreast you will never have any good luck again.
- If the first lamb of the year is black then someone in the family will die within a year.
- If you meet a magpie, a cat or a woman with a limp while you’re on a trip it is bad luck.
- Never ask a man going fishing where he is going.
- If you find a horse shoe and nail it to the door it will bring good luck. This will not work if the shoe is bought or given as a gift by someone else.
Read more: Good and bad luck signs from Irish folklore
- It is not safe to pick up an unbaptized child unless you make the sign of the cross.
- If you stand up and your chair falls over you’re in for bad luck.
- If you own a four-leafed clover you will have good luck in racing, and witchcraft will have no power over you. However, you must always have it with you. You cannot pass it on to another owner, and under no circumstances should you show it to anyone.
- If the palm of your hand itches you’re going to come into some money. If it’s your elbow you will be changing beds. If your ear feels hot someone is talking about you. If it’s your nose that's itchy you are going to have a fight with the person nearest to you. To remedy this punch them in the arm and shake them by the hand. Fight over!
- Handing someone a knife is bad luck. Always put it on the table in front of them never in their hand.
- If you get your shirt wet while you’re washing the dishes you will marry a drunk.
* Originally published in 2013.