Friday, 13 June 2014


No, I didn;t know what it was either until I called in to see my Optician this morning (I had caught my glasses and knocked them off kilter and needed them straightening) when he asked me whether I dared to have them done today.   It is Friday 13th and triskaidekaphobia is fear of the thirteenth.

I found it interesting, particularly after the chat friend W and I had yesterday as we walked round the garden at Thorpe Perrow.   There were such a lot of superstitions around when we were children and I really think our mothers half believed in them.   Although we no longer believe in any of them and know them to be rubbish, we still pay a bit of lip service to them.

Here are some of the ones we remembered from childhood.   Can you add any?

Never put your shoes on the table - could spell a death in the family. (or, I have a feeling, an unwanted pregnancy)
Never bring either lilac or hawthorne into the house - both are very unlucky.
If you spill the salt then throw some over your shoulder with your other hand(we couldn't remember which hand or which shoulder!)

Breaking a mirror means seven years of bad luck.

You must say 'white rabbits' on the first of the month.  If you forget, then as soon as your remember, turn round three times and say 'abracadabra, fiddle de dee, gobblededook'.

Cow parsley may be pretty on the Lane-side but never pick it - its other name is 'mother-die' (need I say more?)

Never smell dandelions - they make you wet the bed.

A lot of rubbish really yet our mothers half believed it and mine, at any rate, never broke any of these rules.

 With reference to that first one about shoes on the table and unwanted pregnancies , I have just read an excellent novel by Susan Hill (if you don't know her as an author, do try her work) called 'A Kind Man'.  Unwanted pregnancies feature largely in the book and it is easy to forget in these somewhat promiscuous days how when I was young, fear of unwanted pregnancy was uppermost in every young woman's mind.  And go one generation back from that to my mother's time and it often spelt disaster for all concerned.

Finally, I have heard from my friends who are walking from Land's End to John O'Groats.  They have walked almost four hundred miles so far, averaging eighteen miles a day, and have reached Shropshire.   They hope to be in Liverpool by June 20th - so far, so good.


Cro Magnon said...

If we discovered crossed knives, we always had to remove the lower one first. I say 'White Rabbit' twice.

ArtPropelled said...

Never bring peacock feathers into the house because they bring bad luck. Don't play with toads or you will get warts.

rachel said...

Turn your money over at the first sign of a new moon, and it should increase.

Picking dandelions made you wet the bed.... it's a very old superstition (and in French, they are called pissenlit), but based on their use as a herbal diuretic.

I still won't put new shoes on the table, but I defied my friend and brought lilacs into the house ("sudden death!") with no adverse results.

All good fun, but mostly nonsense. I suspect!

Maureen @ Josephina Ballerina said...

1. At school we chanted, "Step on a crack, break your mother's back. Step on a line, break your mother's spine." (This made walking on the sidewalk a real problem.)
2. My mother always insisted, "Never say goodbye, say so-long."
3. My grandmother said, "Never open an umbrella in the house, it brings bad luck."
As for me, I have always chosen #13 as my lucky number after getting a hole-in-one on the 13 hole at miniature golf.
And I especially like Friday the 13th. End of the work week plus my lucky number. What's not to like?

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Don't walk under a ladder, never let a black cat cross your path - and many of the ones already mentioned. Oh - and a crow flying across your path carrying something in its beak foretells a gift for you - or good luck.

We have had such fabulously good things happen to us on Friday the 13th that we look forward to what surprise might be coming our way today.

I hadn't heard the white rabbit on - or turning your money - guess I'd better catch up on my superstitions.

angryparsnip said...

The one I was going to say was @Maureeen's #1
As if anyone would put their shoes on my table there would be a death alright !

cheers, parsnip

Doc said...

My wife is very superstitious. I will add one that drives me mad, she won’t let me kill a spider in the house because it will make it rain. We live in bloody Oregon, it rains all the time!!!

Rachel said...

My mother was incredibly superstitious. We were forever rubbing our noses on wood to make whatever it was bad news come good for what reason I don't know. And I am still doing it!

tilly said...

I still won't put shoes on the table, or bring lilac or Hawthorn into the house (my favorite perfumes)we always called cow parsley 'mother-pull-your-eyes-out'and never dared to pick it...... I still don't lol.....and also I never tempt fate by putting an umbrella up inside the house..... surely some of them must be true lol.....

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I think my mother believes all of the above! I don't of course, but I'm crossing my fingers and touching wood just in case.

Elizabeth said...

I think putting shoes on the table would be rather dirty?
In Arab culture soles of feet are considered unclean -as they may well be. See shoes above.
But didn't we put shoes on the table while cleaning them?.....
Never walk under a ladder.
Lilacs and hawthorn droop so fast indoors - as do most wild flowers better left in their native habitat!

My son chose Friday 13th as his wedding day some years ago. The Saturday before that was 7/7/07 - considered very desirable.
Anyway, his wife is a delight and they are very happy together....and the reception hall was much less expensive!

Em Parkinson said...

Best wishes to your friends!

Funnily enough, M was talking about the shoes on the table thing this morning only he couldn't remember where you weren't meant to put them so told me I shouldn't put them ANYWHERE other than the floor. I nodded and smiled....

mumasu said...

My mum had lots of those with the addition of Ivy not coming in the house because there would be a death.

Heather said...

I have heard of nearly all those superstitions and have one more to add to the list. If you see a lone magpie you must say 'Good morning Mr.Magpie' to avoid bad luck. I have never really bothered about Friday 13th, and today has been a really good day. I pick cowparsley when it is in season as I love it, but I am safe as my mother died four years ago aged 102!
Good luck to your friends on that walk - I hope the weather will be kind to them.

MorningAJ said...

I'm not ashamed to admit that I believe most of those. But for some of us it's a religion. It's no more ridiculous than thinking bread turns into flesh just because a priest gives it to you.

Reader Wil said...

Interesting post! I knew of course about the cat and the ladder, but I don't know about the shoes on the table. I wouldn't do that because I think it dirty. Thank you for the new word: Triskaidekaphobia!

Pondside said...

Interesting bits and pieces. Here are a few more:
1. Don't stare into the mirror too long or you'll see the devil over your shoulder.
2. Never give a new purse without some money in it or the recipient will always be short.
3. If you're giving a knife as a gift, stick a coin to it or the knife may cut your friendship.
4. Always drink up the bubbles at the edge of your cup of tea - you will be rich.
I know there are more, and you've set me on a memory-quest.

the veg artist said...

No shoes on the table - even if they are still in their box!!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks to everyone for those additions - as I read them I knew most of them and I suspect we could all think of more to add. They are all still there only just below the surface aren't they?

syrahsuzie said...

I still get upset about shoes on a table and I never give a purse without putting a coin in it. One that nobody has mentioned that my mother fervently believed in, and I try to follow as I'm sure something bad will happen if I don't, is "always leave a house by the same door as you entered".

marry james said...
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jinxxxygirl said...

Lets see ... i will write this before i read the other comments so i don't forget but perhaps someone else has remembered them...

Don't step on a crack in the sidewalk or you will break your mother's back.

Don't walk under a ladder, its bad luck

Never gift someone with a wallet or purse with putting at least a Dollar $$ in it or they will be unlucky with money.

Never gift someone a set of knives or anything sharp. Make them pay you a penny for it or it will be bad luck for them

This has been fun! Hugs! deb

shadypinesqltr said...

My mother firmly believed in never putting new shoes on the table!
How about:
Stir with a knife, stir in strife.
Never give a purse or wallet without money in it.
Cross a baby's Palm with silver the first time you see it for good luck (for the baby)
Broken mirror brings 7 years bad luck.
Did anyone ever "first foot" on New Year's? We did in Co. Durham.

rm said...
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susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

Opening the umbrella in the house is one that comes to mind. I don't open the umbrella in the house. Another one is that it is bad luck to put a hat on a bed. (That one makes sense to me, as I would probably end up sitting on the hat), but I avoid putting any hats on the bed because of the superstition.

Terry and Linda said...

This post and all the comments has been really fun!!!

Thank you!