Friday the 13th conjurs superstition for some

Sandra Coffman points to today’s date on the calendar, Friday the 13th. She said she has always been leery of this unlucky day.

Step on a crack and break your mother’s back.

The number 13, breaking a mirror, crossing paths with a black cat, and walking under a ladder. All are considered harbingers of bad luck.

Today is Friday the 13th, a day some say is destined for bad luck and misfortune. It’s a relatively rare occasion when the 13th falls on a Friday, occurring only one to three times a year.

According to the Farmers’ Almanac, an even rarer occurrence is when a full moon falls on a Friday the 13th, especially a harvest moon, which hasn’t happened in almost 20 years and won’t happen for about 30 more. The harvest moon is the full moon nearest to Sept. 23, the first day of fall.

So does that make today a more unlucky day?

Some people are affected by their own fear of Friday the 13th.

It’s not certain when Friday the 13th became paired with bad luck. The number 13 has long been considered unlucky. This odd number is even nonexistent in some buildings, which skip a 13th floor and number them from 12 to 14. Some airlines don’t have a 13th row. Some people refuse to travel on Friday the 13th.

And of course, who can forget the scary movies and suspenseful novels on the topic of Friday the 13th. Superstitions are yet another element of Friday the 13th, bringing to mind various superstitions people observe.

Find a penny and it’s good luck … only if it is heads-up.

Bad luck happens in threes. When a couple things go wrong, some people begin to look for the next occurrence of bad luck.

Break a mirror and instantly receive a seven-year sentence of bad luck.

Never open an umbrella inside.

It’s also considered a bad omen if a black cat crosses your path.

Don’t walk under an open ladder.

If you hang a horseshoe wrong, all your luck will run out.

Knock on wood to reverse bad luck.

There are plenty of other common superstitions: never fail to respond to a chain. Don’t turn over a salt shaker. Don’t walk while wearing only one shoe. There are some strange superstitions too: don’t whistle indoors, don’t set a pair of shoes on a table, never rock an empty rocking chair, don’t let a bird fly into your home and don’t wear new clothes to a funeral. All of these actions supposedly bring bad luck.

Sandra Coffman, of Terre du Lac, has always believed in superstitions and “what you throw out into the universe, you will get back.”

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She said she has a crazy fear of black cats crossing her path, and she won’t walk under umbrellas.

“I am especially leery if the 13th falls on a Friday,” said Coffman. “I think I have always felt sensitive to things around me. I have walked into rooms and absolutely not liked them and there wasn’t anything there to really make me feel that way.”

She recalled a time when she was in middle school. A group of her friends were always visiting graveyards at night and talking about spooky happenings.

Coffman’s grandmother and mother have had similarly strange feelings about things.

“I think as kids we pick up on those thoughts or fears when we are around those who have them,” she said.

Coffman said she has had both spooky and unexplainable experiences and her husband feels she has passed these thoughts on to her three daughters.

“I know there is a lot out there that cannot be explained so I feel anything is possible,” she said.

Chris Stroup, of Farmington, admitted he is superstitious although he didn’t at first think he was.

“You never close a pocket knife someone else opened or let someone close a knife that you opened,” he said. “That is a big one for me.”

Another example Stroup gave is to not rock an empty rocking chair.

“I just stopped my daughter Norah from doing that this evening,” he said.

He noted other superstitions: do not open an umbrella inside and don’t walk with one shoe on and one shoe off. “That’s a big no-no,” he said.

“Of course you never walk under a ladder,” Stroup said. “That one makes sense more than any of the others because it can be dangerous. But I have always been told it’s bad luck.”

He remembers hearing all of these superstitions his whole life but never realized that he himself “bought into these superstitions until recently when I started to tell these same things to my daughter.”

Stroup recalled hearing these things early on from his grandparents, especially his grandfather Ted Cook. He passed away when Stroup was in fourth grade.

“But I remember him saying these things were ‘bad luck,’” he said. “I guess they just stuck with me.”

He said as he grew up, his grandmother Virginia said the same things, as did his mom and dad.

“I guess superstitions are passed down from generation to generation,” Stroup said. “Even though I know they have no logical basis, I still find myself saying and believing the same things my grandparents did.”

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