What is it about superstition that falls short with me? I don’t buy into any of it. I’ll sleep on the thirteenth floor of a hotel (even though it is labeled the 14th floor); I’ll walk under a ladder when I need to. I’ve spilt salt without tossing anything over my shoulder. That’s all I need, a shoulder covered with salt. Let the dandruff rumors begin.
There have been lots of songs written about superstition. “Superstition” for one, by Little Stevie Wonder. And another that comes to mind is “Knock on Wood,” which has been done and re-done many times over the years.
The origins of some of the most common superstitions are interesting. Black cats, for instance, are said to be the omen of misfortune or death. Don’t walk in front of one. It’s said that the black cat phenomenon dates back to the days of Plymouth Rock, when Pilgrims associated black cats to be companions to witches. To own one back then could lead to punishment or even death. Seriously.
I’m happy to say that some cultures consider black cats to be omens of good fortune. Plus, I have a black cat and she doesn’t have a malicious bone in her body. She is actually very intelligent, personable and may be an omen of some serious purring about to come your way.
Seven years of bad luck for breaking a mirror? I doubt it. The origin apparently dates back to the middle ages, back to a time when mirrors were expensive. If a servant were to break one, for instance, they may have to work seven years to pay off the debt to the mirror’s owner. Nowadays, you could run to the dollar store and have the mirror paid off or replaced in about 20 minutes’ time and wages. Can we put that superstition to bed now?
Horseshoes are another one. We received a horseshoe when we moved into our house in Navasota. It is supposed to be hung at the house to bring good luck. But which way do you hang it? Upright to hold in all the good luck, or pointing downward so that the luck and good fortune can shower down upon you? I can’t be sure. So, for years, it has sat on the countertop and acts as a great paperweight.
When you find a penny, do you pick it up? Does it matter if it is face up or face down? Whenever possible, I will take the time to pick up a stray coin. Heads or tails, I’m more interested in two things: First, the date of the coin. I’ll hold onto wheatback pennies and buffalo nickels. Second, if not a wheatback, it’ll go into my coin jar and will eventually become gambling money. Now, THERE’s when I could use some luck!
Going back to the number 13, I don’t see any special significance there. Friday the 13th comes around at least once a year and makes for some fun conversation. Otherwise, it never has been any special kind of day for me one way or another. Throughout history, much has been attributed to Friday the 13th and the number 13 in particular. If you are interested, you should check it out.
To paraphrase a comment I saw recently, why should we worry about any of these superstitions? We are surviving 2020. Nothing should scare us anymore!
Johnny McNally is Grimes County’s Best Dressed Businessman advocating for Grimes County and writes a bi-weekly column for the Navasota Examiner.