Truth or dare is it all in our heads or not

By Patti Pietschmann, Travel Diva


Today is Friday the 13th. It is the only one on the calendar for 2021. This in itself is a bit superstitious. What about you? Do you face fears for Friday the 13th? Many folks do. Should we worry?  In fact people throughout the world foster bizarre  phobias about many things. Read on.

Superstitious about what?

What is superstition? I must confess that my Italian heritage has graced me a few.  We knock on wood when wishing something bad won’t happen. We cross ourselves a lot in hopes that will protect us. Some of use garlic to ward off evil. Whether it does or not, we love to cook with it.  Also stepping on a crack will break your mother’s back.

Kicking off the superstitions

Football fans harbor quite a few superstitions. These are always in full force when we approach the big Super Bowl games.    Some involve clothing. Like putting a pair of favorite tighty whities, socks, team jersey which might lead to the dreaded itchy nose superstition.

Another is of course is donning a team’s cap or colors in hopes that the good karma will flow. Some guys refuse to shave before a game. I don’t think this applies to women. Some staunch superstitious sorts even feel that one team’s win could influence the stock market.

Playing by the numbers

So today marks the first Friday the 13th  of the year. Whoa, is this a good or bad omen. Anyhow the number 13 is much maligned but some, like myself feel it’s a lucky digit.

Some folks associate 13 with the Goddess of Fertility and that it brings success.

Now 17, which when I play  Roulette is my lucky number bad luck in Italian lore.  The theory is that Roman numerals XVII it spells Vixi or “I have lived.” And they think that this is about death. Something I just learned is that Italians fear the number so strongly that many hotels avoid 17th floors.

The evil eye or what does it mean when your right eye jumps

Remember in Seinfeld shows how the gang often gave the ‘eye’. Well the evil eye is to be avoided in Italian lore.  It is called the Malocchio which when given casts a curse on the recipient. Some even say there is the right eye twitching superstition. I couldn’t find what it does mean when your right eye twitches. Then I tried to find out about the left eye twitching superstition with no luck.

The evil eye is a superstitious curse or legend originating in Ancient Greece and Rome, believed to be cast by a malevolent glare, usually given to a person when one is unaware. It is a type of |apotropaic apotropaic magic. Wikipedia

Italians, believe wearing a corno, or horn-shaped necklace, resembling a chili pepper, will ward off a curse.

Knock on Iron Superstition Examples

Many people say, “knock on wood” to affirm that something bad won’t happen or avoid a jinx. However, in Italy, the phrase is ‘tocco ferro’ or touch iron. It must be done to repel evil spirits. Some believe in the superstition so much that they even carry a nail in their pocket.

Don’t spill the salt or olive oil

Olive oil and salt are staples at Italian meals. And they must never be spilled because that portends bad luck. However Italians do believe that if you toss a  pinch of the spilled salt over your left shoulder or dab a bit of olive oil behind each ear it will turn their luck.

Some say this superstition has it roots in Christian beliefs that the devil tends to linger on the left side of the body. Ergo by spilling salt you are inviting him to do evil and tossing salt over your left shoulder hits Satan  in the face and will stop him cold.

Break a leg

Show biz folk often say, ”Break a leg,” to a performer. Italians kind of feel the same way thinking that wishing someone good luck will do just the opposite. Instead they say, “bocca al lupo” which means in the mouth of the wolf. But should they say this to you do not reply with a thank you or ‘prego’.

Worshipping the bread

Like the French, Italians enjoy  wine, cheese and bread. Italian Catholics believe that  turning a loaf of bread upside down or cutting it with a knife is considered disrespectful and deserves  the wrath of God.

It is also thought that when baking bread you should make the sign of the cross over the dough to bless it before it goes in the oven. My Italian grandmother always did this.

Some French superstition examples  Number 13 and Number 2

The French shun the number13. They never seat a baker’s dozen at a dinner table. They also think that if you step in Number 2 made by a dog with your left foot good luck will come to you. However, if done with your right good, watch out.

This superstition says not having 13 guests at a table derives from the Last Supper, where one of the 13 diners – Judas Iscariot – ended up being a traitor. French waiters will sometimes add an egg to the table to mark a 14th “dinner guest” to fend off the bad luck.

 Slicing superstition

 The French are known for their culinary skills but believe you should never give a knife as present. If you really want to gift them cutlery you should ask for payment which ostensibly breaks the curse.
Here’s some I love. Bread-loving French never leave their baquette or pan upside down. Mon dieu! If this is done it is considered a curse that will strike you down.

Spanish superstitions or Friday the 13th superstitions

 Spain doesn’t concern itself with Friday the 13th but really worries when the 13th falls on a Tuesday.  They apparently go so far as to avoid activities like weddings and travel.

Hats off in Spain

It is considered bad luck to place a hat anywhere but on a bed in Spain. Doing so, they feels, brings bad luck. So remember that next time you check into a hotel room in Madrid and are wearing a hat. Do not go into the bedroom with it.

Bad luck symbols or getting rid of evil spirits

Spanish folk often consider using cactus to ward off evil spirits. Thus the reason  why you will see so many of these plants in flower pots around villages.

Making a clean sweep

The  Spanish have many thoughts about  brooms. First of all never bring an old one to a new house or this will cause a curse. They also feel that brooms can  determine one’s fate. They say not to sweep over a single woman’s feet or she will never marry.

German gems

 German superstitions start early with the idea that it’s not good if you meet an old woman in the morning.  They also think hens crowing like roosters represent bad luck. And, that it’s a bad omen to encounter a spinning woman while riding a horse overland.  You must change course immediately.

 Black cat superstition brings bad luck

 Researching the net we found that this  tradition was reversed at sea where 18th century Pirates came to believe that a black cat would bring bad luck if it walks towards someone. It could also produce good luck if it walks away from someone. It was also believed that if a black cat walks onto a ship and then walks off it, the ship will sink on its next trip.







Through a glass darkly (or broken mirror)


Blame it on the ancient Romans who came up with the idea that looking  into a mirror broken mirror brings seven years back luck. This stems from another piece of Roman lore stating that every seven years life would renew itself and any broken parts of your life – such as health issues – would be fixed.

New Years superstitions

I am knocking on wood and crossing my fingers in hopes you enjoyed reading this. Oh, I forgot about the New Year’s day superstitions.

superstitionsWell here are a couple of pithy ones to chew on. To good luck in the new year, carry an empty suitcase; eat black eyed peas and collard greens. To ward off evil spirits and get rid of any bad of he last year, make lots of noise. Wear red undies for good fortune.


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