Group Commentary: Favourite superstitions

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Pretend you’re walking under a ladder, stepping on a crack, opening an umbrella indoors, shattering a mirror, dropping cutlery on the floor, watching a crow fly overhead, and crossing paths with a black cat. Are you stressed out now?

On Friday, January 13th, a plane – flight 666 – departed for HEL (Helsinki). The plane landed safely, thankfully, but people on Twitter were freaking out and wondering why anyone would risk it and board that plane. That doesn’t sound like #goodvibesonly.

Are these just old wives tales your grandmother would spew at you before a family dinner when you were just a kid or are they legitimate fears? We asked our writers if they’re superstitious about anything, and here’s what they said.

Growing up, my family utilized a number of superstitions, and made certain my brother and I never forget them. Most of them seem pretty normal; keep umbrellas closed inside, no hats on beds, don’t break a mirror, etc. Yet, while I remember those, one haunts me to this day. Every time someone supposes that something bad could happen, I’ve got to knock on wood. There is simply no other way to let Mother Earth know, “I am not dealing with your shit today.” If I’m in an exam and my pal turns to me and says, “I hope we don’t fail this test,” I’ll knock on wood. If I have a slight cold and my best friend says “Don’t die,” I must knock on wood. I’ll settle for plastic imitations, but it’s best to have the real thing. That echoing sound upon impact between bone and dead xylem tissue cancels out any jinx or curse that might have been caused by words spoken and puts my soul at ease.

— Alexander Cook

At the beginning of every semester, profs (and contract instructors) ramble about the most prominent campus superstition that’s been repeated so much that everyone thinks it’s true: you need more than three days to write a term paper.

It depends what kind of student you want to be. If you’re a grad school hopeful, this won’t apply to you. But if you want your educational experience to range from “gettin’ by” to “B+” (and hope you’ll marry rich), there’s no reason why you should be in the library until reading week.

The three-day essay is an acquired skill. It involves balls, deodorant, a lot of Gatorade and low-quality food. Profs (and contract instructors) will say your arguments are lacking and the citations are fucked, but if you’re in the “gettin’ by” to “B+” range, the contents of the essay are secondary to learning how to organize in a short amount of time, to learn how to not panic, and to pace yourself under stress. Plus you’ll have some entire semesters making the most of your early twenties.

— Josh Greschner

If you ever played hockey as a kid, you probably remember being a little weary of your team’s goalie. I was one for almost my entire youth, from the time I was in novice up until midget, and I can tell you from experience, goalies are crazy — especially when it comes to superstitions. From the meal I’d eat before a game, to the pad I’d put on first, or the colour and thickness of the tape on my stick, the extent of my pre-game superstitions stretched without end. If I was getting pumped up to “New Noise” (Friday Night Lights style) before I played well, it was on repeat every game after. If we lost, or I let in a bad goal, the whole routine was back to square one. And don’t get me started on what I’d do once I was on the ice. My teammates must have thought I’d taken one too many pucks to the head. But they didn’t complain about my crazy beliefs so long as they kept me stopping breakaways and making sweet glove saves.

— Sam Podgurny 

Superstition kinda runs in my family. My (very azn) grandmothers were both hella superstitious, and I learned from them a myriad of customs: red is lucky. Things that come in eights are lucky. Thirteen is lucky (suck it, freaky, 13-based Halloween movies). Always visit your ancestors’ graves every year, because you want those good vibes to rain down on you from the heavens. That’s just a few of their teachings.

So with all these beliefs swirling around, it stands to reason I’d pick up on one of my grandmothers’ biggest warnings. I don’t know when I actually started putting it into practice, but for a really, really long time now I’ve been avoiding the number four in all its forms — I try not to eat only four of any one thing, I don’t like to stay in rooms on the fourth floor or sit in the fourth row of theatres, and I get antsy if I glance up at the clock and it’s 4:44. It sounds a little funky, but really, it’s not that bizarre of a phobia.

Generally Chinese people have a bit of an aversion to the number four because the way it’s pronounced sounds like 死, or “death” in Cantonese and Mandarin. This similarity doesn’t show up in all Chinese dialects, but because it does in the two dominant dialects, the belief is pretty widespread. It might just be a silly superstition, but just in case, I’m gonna continue eating either three or five pieces of pizza at parties — never four.

Victoria Chiu 

What is it with the number seven? How can it be good luck as 777, enjoyable as Monica from Friends‘ seven erogenous zones, and yet also the amount of deadly sins? Regardless, I’ve heard of two superstitions with the number seven: one good, one bad.

A number of years ago on a family vacation, we went swimming with stingrays in Grand Cayman. I know, what the fuck were we thinking. The legend says — actually it’s probably just the locals tricking us and having a good ol’ laugh about it later — that if you kiss a stingray, you’ll have seven years of good luck. Also, don’t step on them because they’ll sting you. If you remember Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter, you’ll know death via stingray is possible. Potential low risk, high reward I suppose. So, we did it.

Then, when I was travelling in New Zealand a number of years later, these two French girls I met informed me of another superstition involving the number seven. Anytime you clink glasses with someone during a cheers, you must make eye-contact. If you don’t, you’ll have seven years of bad sex. I couldn’t risk that. So, now I make eye-contact with everyone when I cheers.

— Ashton Mucha 

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