Be it the result of centuries’ worth of speculation or just something picked up after a series of unfortunate events, Friday the 13th haunts our calendars like the soundtrack of Jaws. It is said to be the most ill-fated day of the year and, unluckily for believers, there can be up to three Friday the 13th’s a year. Are you just a believer of unlucky Fridays or are there other theories you’re superstitious about?
THE EVIL EYE
Human beings have always tried to come up with an explanation as to why unfortunate happenings take place. Many believed that roaming evil spirits would impose malevolent occurrences on whomever they follow. Take a trip down memory lane and think about the times you noticed horns hanging from a car mirror or attached to a set of keys to keep the evil eye at bay. Some superstitious notions go back to when the Phoenicians ruled the Islands, where fishermen started painting and engraving eyes on their fishing vessels to keep them safe from harm’s way whilst venturing the seas. This has now become a staple look within the well-known luzzu’s design. Many Maltese still believe in the presence of the evil eye; sometimes going to great lengths to protect themselves by blessing their homes every so often and pulling out their index and little fingers when someone shares a thought which they don’t wish on themselves.
BAD LUCK COMES IN THREES
This notion is embodied within many cultures, the Maltese nonetheless. The proverb “Fuq tlieta toqgħod il-borma” can easily be heard when random things start occurring, from accidental breakages of china plates to deaths. History writers have documented how some communities sometimes go to the extent of breaking a third object to disperse bad luck. Others consider three a lucky number. Judgment differs depending on whether one believes that an accident seldom comes alone or if it’s the ‘third-time lucky’ saying that counts.
Weddings are glorious celebrations and both families go to great lengths to make sure that the couple’s big day runs smoothly. However, there’s no harm in setting out rules to make sure bad luck doesn’t tamper with the occasion. A common superstition is where the couple cannot see each other 24 hours prior to the wedding, whilst the bride should wear something old, borrowed, blue and new to walk down the aisle with for good luck. The tossing of rice once the ceremony is finished is said to symbolise good fortune and fertility. An almost-extinct local custom sees brides hastily making their way to St. Clara’s Monastery in Kappara, with a turkey as a gift to the cloister nuns who, in return, pray for good weather for the bride’s wedding day. Old traditions give colour to these prestigious ceremonies and whilst there’s no actual proof of whether these work, it is looked upon as safe to follow them blindly.
SNEEZE ILL WISHES AWAY
Dating back to the time of the Great Plague, it was believed that when a person sneezes, the soul could separate from the body and get within Satan’s reach. Saying bless you to a person who has just sneezed was believed to keep evil away and fend off imminent death. Others vowed that when a person sneezes, demons are banished away. The Bless You saying started off as purely religious; which has now transformed into a form of politeness.
Since times begone, the locals have found ways to use religion to wish for good fortune. Believing that sincere prayers are heard, churchgoers hurry to the nearest sanctuary or set up shrines in their homes made of holy pictures and candles to share their wishes with the holy saints. A well-known Maltese tradition was to pray to St. Anthony when a possession gets lost or to take a trip to Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary in Gozo when a vow is fulfilled.
When the human brain can’t explain something, many revert to surreal beliefs. As history shows, some superstitions have been repeated and passed on through generations to this very day. Whether you’re a believer in faith or just take each day as it comes, a brush with bad luck is on no one’s agenda, so find your own way to turn a setback into a stroke of luck.