Random Thoughts

Superstitions

... am I superstitious after all ...

by Ann Robbins Talbot

What bride has not taken a quick check to make sure she has something
old (my pearl necklace), something new (my shoes), something borrowed
(my sister-in-law’s wedding dress), something blue (a garter made by
Dick’s mother for his sister). It is good luck for guests to kiss the
bride and to have rain fall on your wedding day. I see lots of puddles
in my wedding pictures. I never did try putting wedding cake under my
pillow. There is so much at stake on that day, a truckload of good luck
charms would not be too many. Studies show that good luck charms boost
one’s confidence and lessen stress. The odds are that you are going to
do a better job no matter what the magnitude of the project.

When I stop to think about it, everyone seems to have a few
superstitions. I always pick up a penny lying in front of me. I had
heard it was a message from someone who had passed on. A very wealthy
man was once asked why he bothered to pick up a paltry penny. He
answered, “To read the inscription – ‘In God We Trust’”.

Actually many good luck signs come from early Christianity. Crossing
your fingers, a common sign, designates the cross of Jesus as does the
four leaf clover. People completing business used to put out one
finger and make a cross together to seal the bargain. Friday, being a
bad luck day, goes back to Jesus’ death. 666 as the number of the
“beast” or devil comes from the Book of Revelation which was basically
written in code. Throughout history the numbers three and seven have
been lucky, even mystical, while 13 is decidedly unlucky for some
reason unknown to me.

In the sporting world are many good luck rituals with each player
determining his/her own. During the NHL playoffs players never touch a
lesser trophy, saving their touch for the Stanley Cup only. A tennis
player winning a first round match will wear that same outfit
throughout the tournament even though they have brought many clothes.
A team wearing identical uniforms cuts down the stress of deciding
what to wear and giving instant identification in a game. The fans
hope to bring good luck wearing the team colors and emblem. I would
like to have a nickel for every Olde English “B” being worn on caps.

Some superstitions have totally lost their meanings. While not walking
under a ladder is just plain common sense, never buying an opal for
yourself escapes me. The childhood superstition of not stepping on a
sidewalk crack or you will break your mother’s back used to be very
serious as was owning a rabbit’s foot, throwing salt over your
shoulder, breathing on your dice or touching a lucky spot on a certain
statue, obvious because that spot was particularly shiny.

Some bad luck signs are very old superstitions. Not letting a black
cat cross your path dates back to belief in the power of witches. A
black cat (or bat) was thought to be the familiar of a witch who could
take this animal form. Breaking a mirror bringing seven years bad luck
comes from the ancient belief that mirrors not only reflected your
image, but held a piece of your soul. You needed time to let your soul
heal to wholeness when a mirror broke. I do not believe these old
tales but try to avoid black cats and breaking mirrors anyway – just
in case.

Occasionally I think a good luck designation is used to make a bad
event more manageable. Years ago, on a freezing, windy day I attended
a girls’ soccer game between Hanover and Holliston. The game proceeded
through two scoreless halves and two overtimes. The last step was a
shootout with our goalie sitting on the bench with a migraine. During
the break I walked to my car to get a warmer jacket. A seagull flew
above me and its droppings landed on my head. That is supposed to be a
very lucky incident. And yes, Holliston won the shootout. And yes, I
gave myself full credit.

A superstitious believer or not, I would never open an umbrella in the
house, never put a hat on a bed, never say “good luck” to a person
going on stage. I believe in beginner’s luck just because you are not
carrying the stress of experience. Superstitions seem to be part of me
after all.                                                             


July 5, 2013


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