5 Unusual Superstitions From Around the World

Being superstitious is not limited to one geographic area.

5. North America - 13th Floor of Buildings

In North America, builders omit the 13th floor but by numbering it differently. For instance they may name it 12 A instead of using the number 13. This is because 13 is feared to be an unlucky number which may bring tragedy or bad luck when used. Landlords also fear that such floors may not be occupied by tenants who believe in the myth. The fear of the 13th floor is a phobia referred to as “triskaidekaphobia.” The naming methods for the 13th floor vary with each builder and landlord. The common practice is to just skip 13 and name the next floor 14 as in: 12, 14, 15, 16, and so on. Another method is by giving the floor a name. An example of this is in the case of the “Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago” where the 13th floor is the Mezzanine floor. Other people use the Latin alphabet letter M to denote the 13th floor. In some cases, the floor is not occupied by persons; instead it is used for other functions such as storage or simply a mechanical floor. Some builders make the lifts in such a way that they do not stop on the 13th floor. In spite of the 13th floor phobia being prevalent in North America, some people do not mind using it. In fact they believe that its omission in some buildings is a plot by government agencies to use those floors for clandestine activities. Alternatively, the floors could be used by assassins to organize their activities as no one really pays attention to these floors.

4. Philippines - don't wear red during storms

Some people in the Philippines believe that red clothing should not be worn during storms. This is because the red color attracts lightning which may strike someone to death. Due to this belief Filipinos avoid dressing in red in a storm and are very fearful of their lives if they are caught up in a storm dressed in red. This is in spite of the fact that dressing in red normally has very positive connotations. Red portrays confidence of an individual and exudes power and energy. It is said to be the warmest color amongst all other colors.

3. Spain - Tuesday the 13th

The fear of Tuesday the 13th led to creation of a word called “Trezidavomartiofobia” in 1991. The word means phobia of Tuesday the 13th. In Spanish speaking countries, Tuesday the 13th is also known as the “bad luck day.” There are several theories that attempt to explain this fear. The first one is linked to the popular Christian narrative of the Last Supper, where Judas Iscariot is said to have been the 13th guest. Afterwards he betrayed Jesus. The second myth is that in a feast organized in Valhalla, “Loki” who is the mythological god of evil and spirit of death, appeared at the feast as the 13th guest. The belief that Tuesday the 13th is a fateful day has led to most Western countries leaving out room number 13 in the numbering of hotel rooms. Similarly, omission of 13 is also evident in airline aisles and floor numbers of storey buildings. Amazingly even parents fear when their children turn 13 years, a fear that stems from the Tuesday 13th. This is because it is the beginning of a development stage in teenagers known as adolescents which is a “scary” stage. Adolescents are quite difficult to deal with as they are very outgoing, emotionally distracted and are easily negatively influenced by their peers. Most children become rebellious at this stage of their lives if they are not given proper guidance and counsel.

2. China - chopsticks up in rice

Chopsticks are used in many Asian countries as eating utensils. This is a practice that was passed on by a moral teaching known as Confucianism. The Chinese believe that knives and forks symbolize violence. As such they abandoned their use and chose to use chopsticks which bring out a gentle and benevolent mood during meals. While using the chopsticks in China, it is important to note that it is a taboo to stick one’s chopsticks upright. This is because it reminds them of funerals where incense sticks are placed in the same manner. It is also believed that doing this when eating brings about bad luck. Sticking chopsticks vertically while eating rice may even invite death to an individual or their family. Furthermore, it is considered an impolite and disrespectful act to rest the chopsticks vertically in rice.

1. China - the number 4

Just like the number 13 in western culture, number 4 is considered to be an unlucky number in Chinese culture. This is because the pronunciation of the number is similar to that of death (“Si” in Chinese). Hence the number 4 is associated with bad luck. It has led to the crafting of a word known as “tetraphobia” which basically means phobia of number 4. The Chinese avoid addresses and phone numbers with the numerical 4 by all means. Actually sometimes when 4 is combined with other numbers, it is believed that the number possesses a worse meaning than 4. For instance the number 14 means “will certainly die,” 24 means “easy to die,” and 94 means “being dead for a long time.” The Cantones in China consider 14 and 24 the most unlucky while Mandarin speakers abhor the numbers 14 and 74. In fact it is believed that China did not pursue hosting the World Olympic Games in 2004, after Beijing lost its bid in the year 2000, because of the phobia of the number 4. In addition to this, buildings in Hong Kong have the 14th floors skipped for the very reason that 4 is an unlucky number.

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