September 13th is Defy Superstition Day, a day dedicated to breaking superstitions beliefs. I’m sure if there was a thirteenth month in the year, “Neighvember” for example, then Defy Superstition Day would be celebrated on Neighvember 13th instead. But, as it is, there are only twelve months on our calendar and September got to be the “lucky” one to harbor this holiday.
Many people and cultures carry a large burden of superstitions revolving around numbers, animals, and rituals. Indeed, though many of the modern western superstitions are purported to have originated during the great plague, it is undoubted that superstitions have existed as long as humans have understood the concept of cause and effect, no matter how faulty their conclusions may have been. But what I find particularly jarring is the result that some strange beliefs have had on our society: many building don’t have a 13th floor or a Room 13, and many airplanes are also missing a 13th row. It makes me giggle to consider an architect or aviation big-wig making the decision to skip over the “ominous” number.
I like to consider myself relatively free of superstition. I’ve had a few phobias that I’ve either overcome or am making good progress with (elevators and flying, for example), but I don’t really avoid anything or perform rituals to increase my luck or likelihood of survival. Just about the only thing I avoid on a semi-subconscious level is turning the car radio volume up to level 13. I don’t know why, but if my twist of the dial stops on 13 I usually crank it up one more notch. Other than that, I don’t throw salt over my shoulder and the only wood-knocking I do is to demonstrate that I know that rational odds dictate that certain misfortunes will eventually find me in just a matter of time (i.e., I usually “knock on wood” whenever I talk about the fact that I’ve never been pulled over yet — and with my propensity for speeding, the odds are bound to catch up with me, hopefully later than sooner).