So, even if it was a coincidence, starting a new blog on Friday the 13th hasn’t gotten past my radar. When the hubby got home from work and we were on our way to the Systembolaget (the government owned [and monopolized] liquor shop in Sweden, the only store allowed to sell any alcoholic beverage with more than 3.5%. Side note: the drinking age is different in Sweden than in NY, 18 to drink in a restaurant and 20 to buy alcohol.), I asked if Swede’s have a different take on Friday the 13th. I thought that the difference would be interesting to write about! But, alas, he reported that it is the same unlucky superstition that us Americans believe in. Shucks! However, I went home and did some digging!
The first thing I found was an article on The Local, which is a very informative and useful website to English speakers wanting to keep up with Swedish stories: thelocal.se It is about the actual accident rates on Friday the 13th, interesting but not what i was looking for!
Among more searching I learned something! According to this blog, thesqueee.co.uk, today is something called Tjugondedag Knut. This represents a tradition 20 days after Christmas, which falls on January 13th, when the “looting” of the Christmas tree occurs. Of course this means you take down your ornaments and get rid of the tree. Apparently in certain areas this is celebrated more than others with the tradition of festivals and celebration (also having to do with being an older tradition). An extension of Christmas (Jul), the “twentieth day of Christmas” is popular with children and teens, and anyone who enjoys eating the last of the Christmas goodies (such as edible ornaments). [an interesting find, since today when we went to town square I noticed that the big Christmas tree was still standing, which surprised me due to A) windy weather B) it being so long after the holidays.) I am accustomed to people taking down their trees straight after Christmas, New years, or twelve days after Christmas when the wise men visited Jesus. When do you take down your Christmas tree? We usually use a real tree so our answer is “When it starts dying too much” not adhering to any of the traditions.
While this is a much better note to start a blog on than a superstitious “holiday,” I am still on the hunt for Swedish perceptions of Friday the 13th or at least some different superstitions, every culture has them!
I guess it’s only fair to list some (There are so so many, so only listing the ones I have personally heard growing up) superstitions of my own culture before comparing! (Of course, many superstitions root from older beliefs and superstitions, so a lot may be the same in Sweden!)
- Starting with the Friday the 13th theme, many buildings skip the 13th floor and I’ve heard of at least one airline not having a row 13 and airports skip the 13th gate. Not sure if this extreme of the number 13 is an American superstition.
- Don’t step on a crack or you’ll break your mother’s back.
- Find a penny, pick it up, all day long, you’ll have good luck. A penny found heads up will bring good luck. Superstitious people do not pick up pennies head down!
- Break a mirror, seven years of bad luck!
- Don’t cross black cats path! (Swede’s believe in throwing salt over your shoulder to prevent bad luck from this meeting, or spitting over their shoulder three times.)
- Don’t walk under a ladder! (Same in Sweden)
- Knock on wood to avoid bad luck. (Same in Sweden, except it is “take on wood, or “touch wood”: “ta i trä“)
- Make a wish on an eyelash.
- If your ear itches: Right = someone is speaking well of you. Left Someone is speaking ill of you.
- Opening an umbrella indoors is bad luck.
- If it rains on your wedding day it is considered good luck! (Same in Sweden) (Side note, it rained on ours! Thankfully from like midnight to 4am, but it still counts!)
Those are the major ones I can recall and relate to. Some Swedish ones I’ve found:
- Leaving your keys directly on the table is bad luck. One story behind this, that is widely believed but not by everyone, is that leaving keys on a table was a signal for prostitutes being available. Parents of young women would tell their daughters not to do so because it was “bad luck” not wanting to say the real reason. (Whew, I hang my keys up!)
- Sleeping with seven picked wildflowers flowers under your pillow on Midsummer will give you dreams of your future husband.
- Killing a spider will make it rain.
- Stepping on a “brunnslock” (Sewer lid) is bad luck.
- A bride wears a silver coin in one shoe and a gold coin in the other for good financial luck. (Similar to the “something borrowed ,something blue, something old, something new tradition)
There are too many to go around, some more prominently believed and discussed than others! Are there any that should be added from either culture? Happy Friday the 13th!