September 13, 2013 by T. Gregory Argall
Today is Friday the 13th, a focal point for superstitious people everywhere, so let’s take a moment to throw some salt over a black cat that broke a mirror under a ladder while stepping on the cracks in the sidewalk.
Superstitions are fascinating things because there are so many of them, often contradictory in their diversity.
The Catholic Encyclopaedia traces the word superstition back to two different sources, both in Latin, of course. The word comes from either supersisto, meaning “to stand in terror of the deity” or from superstes, meaning “surviving.” Combining the two Latin roots seems to suggest that if you live in fear of accidentally pissing off the unseen forces around you, then you’ll live longer.
A very wise man (Barney Miller) once said, “That may be surviving, but it certainly isn’t living.”
So, I’ve decided to make a list of some of the more obscure ways in which people choose to limit their enjoyment of life by catering to the imagined whims of invisible people…
Seeing an ambulance is very unlucky unless you pinch your nose or hold your breath until you see a black or a brown dog.
Mixing paprika and bat saliva into freshly squeezed orange juice will bring you 39 seconds of good luck.
Using a blue pen to write on purple sticky-notes provokes the Devil.
Threading a yellow ribbon through seven cats will ensure a bountiful harvest.
Think of five or six names of boys or girls you might marry. As you twist the stem of an apple, recite the names until the stem comes off. You will marry the person whose name you were saying when the stem fell off. The others will all die horrible deaths, probably in a fire.
Paper cuts are a sign of virility.
Trees have feelings, too.
Every time a bell rings, an angel kicks a gopher in the nuts.
Standing on the rounded part of a curb will cause intestinal blockage in your ancestors.
If you accidentally spill sugar on your buttocks, you should throw a rock at your neighbour before sunset.
If you gaze into a mirror and say the name of PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk three times, puppies will rain down from the sky. (This isn’t nearly as cute and cuddly as it initially sounds. First of all, puppies aren’t good at landing. Not at all. Not even a little. Secondly, these puppies have been vivisectioned.)
Pouring motor oil on an open wound can thaw frozen vegetables fifty feet away.
If you yell, “Habbalanoobie Kamoog!” before punching your grandmother in the face, it doesn’t count.
…And now here’s a video clip of the only superstition that matters…