Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Five: Very Superstitious Edition

It's Friday the 13th -- time for a spooky RevGalBlogPals Friday Five!
1. How is this Friday the 13th looking for you?
It's looking like Day 2 of our epic Clean the Refrigerator marathon. Yesterday was devoted to throwing out assorted biology experiments that had migrated to the back of the fridge, to ruthlessly culling all condiment bottles and jars with unknown expiration dates and to washing out the crisper drawers. Today I am continuing to scrub shelves -- Fellow Traveler kindly removed them for me while I was off getting spiritually directed -- and together we'll put the thing back together, with considerably fewer contents. The frightening thing is...I am enjoying this, or at least the anticipation of looking into a clean refrigerator. Maybe it's perimenopause.


2. Have you ever had anything unlucky happen on Friday the 13th?
I seem to remember actually breaking a mirror on a Friday the 13th many, many years ago, much to the distress of my poor mother. I don't recall any other negative repercussions, though.

3. Did your family of origin embrace or scorn superstitions? 4. Are there any unique or amusing ones from your family, region, or ethnic background?
As noted, my mom -- and her mother as well -- were terribly superstitious. You name it -- breaking mirrors, spilling salt, horseshoes hanging upside down on a nail -- it all scared the bejeezus out of them. But their family had a rough, rough life with a lot of misfortune, so it's perhaps understandable that they'd project their experience onto handy externals. My dad's side of the family pooh-poohed a lot of this stuff, but they had their own pet superstitions. They considered it unlucky, for instance, if girls whistled -- "Whistling girls and crowing hens/both will come to no good ends" -- and my dad was actually quite irritated at my maternal aunt for teaching me how. Dad hunted rabbits and always had a rabbit's foot hanging up in the barn. And -- I find this interesting -- my father's side of the family considered black cats to be good luck on the farm, and would be happy when Mama Barn Cat produced a black kitten in a litter. Both sides of the family embraced inherited folk traditions regarding the health of man and beast, and the potential "hexing" powers of hostile others -- tying a bit of thread in a knot around a wart, then taking and burning the thread, or tying red fabric on a cow's tail to keep the evil eye from afflicting the herd.  Looking back at all this, I'd love to know more about German and Eastern European folk magick and follow the folkloric trail from there to here.

5. Do you love or hate horror movies like "Friday the 13th"?
I don't like the mad-slasher/undead mass murderer genre at all. I do like psychological ghost stories/thrillers; I was one of the people who thought The Blair Witch Project was an entertaining movie, and will watch shows like Ghost Lab even though I know they're hokum. (For anyone interested, YouTube has a series of short videos from, apparently, a disgruntled former employee or hanger-on that demonstrates some of the un-paranormal funny business going on behind the scenes on that series.)

7 comments:

Auntie Knickers said...

I used to hear that about the whistling girls too, but more as teasing than a real superstition. And you reminded me about spilling salt and throwing a pinch over one's left shoulder -- which I think I did for a while, but as usual, I think it was something I read in a book! Very insightful about the connection between superstitions and a hard life. I think the many sailors' superstitions are similar -- an attempt to exercise control in a situation where one feels powerless.

Sophia said...

Great play! Love the lucky black kitty piece--especially as my first adored cat who joined us when I was about six was a luxuriant tuxedo-marked one who really blessed a little girl in a challenging household.

Mompriest said...

I never heard the one about bad luck to look in a mirror on Friday the 13th....yikes - how would one ever get ready for the day? Cover all the bathroom mirrors and hope you dry your hair well enough to be presentable and not laughed at? LOL

RevDrKate said...

Good point about the "folk magic" connections, they are interesting and some have beginnings waaaay back there in time.

angela said...

Fascinating FF. I love the bits about superstition...had never heard any of the farm ones or girls whistling... I've never seen a horror movie or been in a haunted house--really just don't find being scared entertaining. I get mad, strange reaction, but there seems to be no relief when it's all over. I'd think Ghost Lab was interesting and hokey though I've been in the presence of a ghost or two anyway.

Jan said...

I wouldn't even watch "The Blair Witch Project." Oh, well. Your family was much more interesting than mine about possible superstitions.

Barbara B. said...

The folk traditions really are interesting! :) (The Germans from Russia Heritage Society has some good stuff!)