On the only Friday the 13th of 2011, WCCO viewers had a lot of Good Questions about superstitions. From the unlucky number 13 to the history of the bad luck for walking under a ladder, we hit “Reply All.”
• “Why is Friday the 13th unlucky?” — Melanie Llewelyn
Originally the number 13 was good luck. The Egyptians thought there were 12 rungs on the ladder to eternal life, and the 13th step meant you made it.
But Christians had a fear of the number because of Judas, the 13th guest to the Last Supper who betrayed Jesus.
So why Friday? That’s only been around since 1907, likely because an author wrote a fictional book called “Friday the Thirteenth.” The story was about a businessman’s attempt to crash the stock market on an unlucky day.
• “Why is it bad luck to walk under a ladder?” — Johnna Vogelbacher
This is about Christianity. It started in the late 1700s. Look at a ladder — it forms a triangle, like the holy trinity: God the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. The idea is that walking through the trinity is disrespectful to God and may show your sympathy to the Devil.
• “What’s the story behind step on a crack, break your mother’s back?” –- Angie Elliot
This is a horrible story. It started as a racist rhyme from the late 1800s: “Step on a crack and your mother will turn black.”
But cracks have always been used by adults to scare kids. And so the rhyme morphed over the past 50 years into step on a crack, break your mother’s back.
• “Why is breaking a mirror seven years of bad luck?” –- Ashley Wall
The ancient Romans invented glass mirrors, and thought a mirror had the power to take part of your soul. So if you break the mirror you lose your soul.
As for the seven years bit, the Romans believed your soul was renewed every seven years. So you got the bad luck, then a new soul.