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.