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January 13, 2017

Friggatriskaidekaphobics Beware!

Friday the 13th. Bad luck. Black cats walking in front of you. Touch wood if you say something and don't want it to come true. Bad luck comes in threes. Step on a crack, break your mother's back.... these are some of the many superstitions that have passed down through the ages.

But where do they come from? Did our ancestors touch wood as way of protecting themselves from bad things happening? Superstitions often arise because we humans need a way to explain things that don't seem to have an explanation.

 Superstitions continue even in our enlightened age for one simple reason - they are passed on from generation to generation!  Most of us have one or even two superstitions which we may try to keep hidden. Here are a few of our more common superstitions and how they formed.

Don't walk under a ladder. One theory holds that this superstition arises from a Christian belief in the Holy Trinity: Since a ladder leaning against a wall forms a triangle, "breaking" that triangle was blasphemous.

Black cats walking in front of you. This fear (superstition) may have arisen from fear of witches and witches familiars, most often thought to be black cats.

Knock on Wood (Touch wood). This is a very common superstition, believed to ward off evil or bad luck. This may have come from ancient belief in trees having spirits. A good spirit in the wood could protect you from evil. I know my grandmother carried this tradition of wood touching on and I confess so do I!

Friday the 13th. Friggatriskaidekaphobics fear Friday the 13th. The fear of Friday the 13th dates back to the late 1800s. Friday has been unlucky day and 13 has a long history as an unlucky number. Combine the two and it's a double whammy!

So to all you Friggatriskaidekaphobics out there, take cover! Today is your worst day.


Anonymous said...

Friday the 13th turned out to be my LUCKY DAY! I found your genealogy records! I, too, am a descendant of Peter & Elizabeth Bell. Their daughter, Phoebe, married John Petty Sr. My lineage follows to John Petty, Jr. who married Elizabeth Coleman and they went to Sarpy co. Nebraska. John Petty Jr. and Elizabeth Coleman Petty's 2nd child was James E. Petty. James E. Petty married Lena Burg and went to Fall River County, South Dakota. James and Lena had 3 sons: Arley (my grandfather), James & John (known as Jack). James died young in a logging accident (actually a few months before son John was born). The families of the 3 sons lived their lives in Fall River county, South Dakota......including me!!!
I have a sampler (8" x 10") given to me by May Cook. It is Phoebe Bell's sampler, dated 1829. She was 13 then and wrote her name as Pheby. So much of the color has disappeared...So much of it is tan!!! ?? do you have information on John Petty and Phoebe Bell's marriage????

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Anonymous - that's terrific! I would love to see that sampler by Phoebe. Can you take a photo and send it to me? What a lovely heirloom for you to have!

Yes I have the marriage record of John Petty and Phoebe Bell and am happy to share that with you. Just give me an email address :-)


Barbara Leffingwell said... Mother passed away on a Friday 13th!