April 13, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Superstitious Students

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Superstition, the belief that one action causes or influences another without being physical related, has always been an important factor in human development.  Many superstitions are specific to certain occupations, such as sports and theater.  In celebration of Friday the 13th, I traveled around GSA asking students about their personal superstitions, and any others that they had heard of.  Along with many common superstitions that are often still followed today like breaking your mother’s back if you step on a crack, I was given a good deal of new ones to publish here:

  • “If you say the name ‘Macbeth’ in a theater, it’s bad luck.  If you have to refer to it at all you say, ‘The Scottish Play.’”
  • “You can’t whistle on a boat, the only person who can whistle on a boat is the youngest male crew member, otherwise you’ll whistle up a storm.”
  • “Red skies at night, sailors delight; red skies at morning, sailors take warning.”
  • “If you cancel a practice or [baseball] game due to weather, it will be a beautiful day.”
  • “Don’t step on a painted line before the game.”
  • “It’s bad luck to change the name of a boat.”
  • “Don’t eat, talk about, or have pigs on a boat.”
  • “Don’t kill gulls, dolphins, or albatrosses.”
  • “My neighbor, who was very religious, told me that if I dropped a lollipop I could kiss it and hold it up to God and he would clean it for me.  I did it for years before realizing that the dirt wasn’t going away.”
Our family, cultural background, and the people around us can influence our superstitions.  Such beliefs cover a wide range of situations, and are often based in old customs.  For example, the idea that breaking a mirror is bad luck stems from the time when mirrors were expensive and hard to make.  Popular superstitions such as this are so well-known that they have become a common part of life.
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