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Story summary: Many people in Britain consider the number 13 to be unlucky. Some airlines avoid having a seat row numbered 13 - so the rows go from 12 to 14. And there are many other superstitions.
 
 
Superstitions: Friday 13th - unlucky for you?
 
Are you superstitious? Do you believe in good luck and bad luck? And, if so, how do you go about avoiding bad and promoting good luck?

One person in four in Britain is, apparently, superstitious, and they'll do everything from hanging horseshoes over their fireplace to crossing their fingers, touching wood and absolutely never walking under a ladder. And they're careful about cats. Black cats are supposed to be the familiars of witches or warlocks, so if one is following you it's definitely bad luck - a witch is after you!. On the other hand, if one crosses your path and continues then it's good luck because it hasn't noticed you. However, in some places the beliefs are different - so it pays to know where your black cat comes from!

Old superstitions linger even in today's modern world. The author Philip Pullman drew on them in his award winning trilogy of novels 'His Dark Materials'. The trilogy, which appeals to both children and adults, has been adapted for radio and also the theatre.

They are also the subject for research by Dr Richard Wiseman at the University of Hertfordshire. He believes that some people actually want to be unlucky because it helps them to avoid taking responsibility for their own failings. It's easier to say 'I failed the exam because I'm just an unlucky person' than to admit that you didn't work hard enough. 'It's a way of copping out,' he said.

  Links relating to this story:

BBC Scotland - Superstitions of a Scottish surfer

BBC Northern Ireland - Don't cut down your hawthorns!

BBC Wales - Lend you a candle? Not at New Year

BBC England - Weather sayings - they're not superstitious

His Dark Materials -BBC Radio adaptation of the novels by Philip Pullman

Richard Wiseman - getting lucky

Friday 13th - unlucky for some

Witch helps unlucky Somerset football club



 

What do you think?

Are you superstitious? Do you consider that you are a superstitious person?
Yes
No

Results of voting so far
1: Yes   1613 ( 28%) 
2: No   4128 ( 72%) 

Total votes so far: 5741

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GLOSSARY

superstitious: people who are superstitious believe that things happen for reasons which are not scientific or logical - such as good luck and bad luck
luck: luck (or good luck) is success, or good things that happen to you
horseshoes: a horseshoe is a piece of metal shaped like a U which is fixed to the bottom of a horse's foot - its hoof. It is supposed to bring good luck.
familiars: the 'familiar' of a witch is an animal which represents the witch
witches: a woman who is believed to have magic powers - usually evil
warlocks: the male equivalent of a witch
crosses your path: walks in front of you at 90 degrees to the direction you are travelling in
is after you: is following, chasing or pursuing you
linger: if something lingers it continues to exist for a long time
taking responsibility for their own failings: fixing or dealing with your own problems yourself
trilogy : a series of three books (or films or plays) on the same subject and with the same characters
copping out: a colloquial but common phrase meaning that you avoid doing something that you should do

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