Friday the 13th is regarded in the Western world as a day shrouded in superstition.
While superstitions certainly aren’t backed up scientifically, the day seems to bring out the paranoid mystic in many of us, and most cultures seem to bring unique beliefs to the table.
Some Wesleyan students have their own superstitious beliefs, which they’ve had passed down from family members or society in general.
“If you walk across somebody’s body, he or she’s gonna be alone forever,” sophomore marketing major Finn Le said.
Sophomore religion and political science major Jackie Rodriguez chimed in with one of her own.
“If someone sweeps your feet, you’re never gonna get married,” she said.
Rodriguez said she’d only heard her superstition in her native northern Mexico, while Le had heard hers backed up by associates from both China and Thailand.
“My mom tells me that when you find moths in your house, they bring you money,” Le added.
Sophomore history major Yonatzin Cardoso had heard it a bit differently.
“I was told that moths are like little souls, so you’re not supposed to kill them,” Cardoso said. “If you kill them, it’s bad luck.”
Rodriguez was surprised.
“Oh! I hate those,” Rodriguez laughed. “I’ve been killing souls all my life then!”
Rodriguez and Cardoso were both familiar with the superstitions of “brujería,” a descendant of voodoo that is practiced by some in Hispanic and Latin American cultures.
“If you see an owl at your house, it means a witch is watching you,” Cardoso said.
This omen of bad luck means a bruja, or witch, intends to cause you harm. On the other hand, brujas also have ways of warding off bad luck.
“They clean you with an egg, they do some weird stuff, and then when they break it, it’s all black inside,” Rodriguez said.
This is thought to cleanse evil intent off of a person and transfer it into the egg, Rodriguez said.
While these superstitions may sound silly, many of the practices stem from belief systems concerning magic and the supernatural, such as witchcraft, brujería, or voodoo. In some places around the world, people suspecting others of practicing such “dark magic” can even lead to fatal consequences.
Junior political science major Andrea Upadhya talked about “kala jadoo” (literally translated as black magic), a belief system from her native Nepal.
“The women accused of that witchcraft are forced to eat human feces,” Upadhya stated. “It still happens in Nepal today.”
In 2014, a 35-year-old woman in Bihar, India thought to be practicing kala jadoo was dragged from her home by 11 people, forced to eat human feces and killed, according to Reuters.
Attacks and murders of people suspected of witchcraft have been rising in recent decades, according to a 2014 article in the New York Times. Researchers from the United Nations have found that these attacks occur most in impoverished and disenfranchised areas, as well as places where there is ongoing conflict.
At the end of the day, be it brujas or broken mirrors, it’s clear that people from every corner of the globe have their own superstitions. The most important thing is that you can reign in your fears, especially this Friday the 13th, lest they put someone else in danger.