Friday the 13th, Black Cats & Broken Mirrors — Where Do Superstitions Come From?
Ever wonder where popular superstitions trotted out for Halloween come from? We put our online researcher on it and he came up with surprising results! You probably THINK you know the answer, but it turns out that most of the explanations are myths themselves! Be prepared to be surprised (and maybe even a little spooked).
- Black cats have been good luck in many pagan religions such as ancient Egypt and pre-Christian Scotland. That prompted Pope Gregory IX to declare cats evil assistants to the devil in 1232.
- If you’re afraid of Friday the 13th you’re a Paraskevidekatriaphobics. Surprisingly, even though the legend dates back to the Knights Templar, people weren’t really superstitious about it until the 1800s. The legend was kind of invented by “the media” (books, magazines and newspapers). This is the version of the story you’ve likely heard:
On Friday, 13 October 1307, hundreds of the Knights Templar were arrested in France, an action apparently motivated financially and undertaken by the efficient royal bureaucracy to increase the prestige of the crown. Philip IV was the force behind this ruthless move, but it has also tarnished the historical reputation of Clement V. From the very day of Clement V’s coronation, the king falsely charged the Templars with heresy, immorality and abuses, and the scruples of the Pope were compromised by a growing sense that the burgeoning French State might not wait for the Church, but would proceed independently.
But Wikipedia doesn’t buy that story. It says that explanation emerged at the same time as all the others in the 1800s and early 1900s. So any historical explanation is likely as good as another, but the real answer is “the media” created the legend of Friday the 13th.
- Snopes.com believes breaking a mirror is considered bad luck because a mirror reflects not just the body, but also the soul, so a broken reflection will have negative results on the soul and one’s health. They also believe it originates with the Romans, who believed the body’s health operated in seven-year cycles, so the broken reflection could harm you for up to seven years.
Another article explained the bad health originates from the fact that a mirror could trap a part of your soul. So when it broke, that piece of you broke.
And still another article said that because reflective surfaces can be used for divination, breaking the mirror will disrupt your future.