Growing up I was influenced by my classmates regarding superstitions, or, rather, stupidstitions. Black cats, ladders, Friday the 13th is a bad luck day, I had never heard these things from my parents or relatives. Now my mother, being from Indonesia, had different superstitions, like don't ride a bicycle at night through a cemetary because when you leave the cemetary you will have a ghost riding on the back of your bike with you. Not really believing in ghosts, or Santa Claus, I had no fear of this. The cemetary was at the other end of town, anyway. My mother was just telling me stories of her childhood. She also told us of her version of the bogeyman, that alligators lived under the bed and you had to be careful at night.
But my classmates were always excitedly solemn when they would talk about superstitions. The first one I learned was about Friday the 13th. They acted like they were in horror of the day, that many bad things would happen and they had to be extra careful not to have these bad things happen to them. Since I had not heard of these things I pretended to know because I was often met with dirision when I would talk of Dutch or Indonesian things they did not understand or not know of things they considered common knowledge. Then I would go home and ask my parents and they would say not to worry about Friday the13th. So the first time I knew it was Friday the 13th I was a little apprehensive but nothing happened. Nothing. So I dismissed that idea.
Then there was the time a black cat walked in front of me, crossing my path. My classmates urged me to go another way. I would have to go a block out of my way. Yep, I ignored them and continued on. Nothing happened. Then there was a broken mirror at school and the prospect of seven years of bad luck for my classmate. Later I broke a mirror by slamming a door in my house. And the next seven years did seem to be full of bad luck. But let's be honest, no one's life runs smoothly and if it did cause a run of bad luck, it was for much more than seven years, so that busted that myth. Then there is the one about walking under ladders, but that seems to be just good sense to me. Things can fall off of ladders and land on your head, like buckets of paint.
Then I came to Korea. A guy wouldn't let me eat chicken wings because he said if I did, I would fly away from him. Okay. 4 is the equivalent to 13 in my culture, as fourth floors are labled F and in Canada they are labled 14, which I thought was stupid because calling the 13th floor 14 doesn't really change the fact that it is, indeed, the 13th floor. My students asked me not to write their names in red because then they would die, because Koreans write dead people's names in red. And couples shouldn't go to Gyopo because they will break up like the rocks there. The stupidest one is fan death. If one could die from that I would have been dead along time ago. I had students cry and beg me not to, because I would die. So today feel free from superstitions that bad things will happen, just enjoy the beginning of your weekend and feel happy.