Friday the 13th: NB expert says superstitions may come true, if you believe in them

WATCH ABOVE: Skeptics say there’s absolutely no reason to be concerned on Friday the 13th, but as Global’s Adrienne South reports, the superstitious are exercising extra caution.

Friday the 13th is often known as an unlucky day, and according to experts, those who believe in superstitions are more likely to have bad luck.

READ MORE: Friday the 13th: Not as scary as it sounds

University of New Brunswick history professor Gary Waite said he’s “skeptical” about Friday the 13th bringing bad luck and evil to peoples’ lives, but said it’s about how people perceive the day.

“There has been research that’s been done now on what your brain does when you fear something,” Waite said.

He said when you fear something your brain will “secrete extra particular chemicals.”

The fear dates back to the time of ancient voodoo rituals, Waite said.

“A lot of people when they believe that they’ve been cursed [they] will actually exhibit the physical symptoms that they think they’re going to show,” Waite said.
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He said those who believe they’ve been cursed or are feeling unlucky could actually become unlucky.

Family superstition

Sharon Brodbeck said she grew up living with superstitious grandparents and the anxiety surrounding Friday the 13th.

“My mom died on Friday the 13th,” Brodbeck said.

While she said her mother passed away naturally at an “old age,” she said she is still superstitious about opening an umbrella or the house or crossing paths with a black cat.

She said she’s driving more cautiously today.


Brodbeck is one of many people who have  “Friggatriskaidekaphobia” – a fear of Friday the 13th.

UNB student Renee Pluff said she slipped on the ice twice Friday and had a “stressful day.”

“I’m just unlucky today, I guess,” Pluff said.

Pluff said she agrees that the belief in bad luck can be a “self fulfilling prophecy,” but said she still knocks on wood and avoids walking on sidewalk cracks.

“I know it’s all because I think about it and because I believe it,  but it just doesn’t stop me from believing,” Pluff said.

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Waite said he has noticed a shift that younger generations aren’t as superstitious as previous generations when it comes to things like avoiding black cats.  He said most omens and superstitions go back hundreds of years and are “residual remnants of this sort of a collective memory that’s been passed-down” over time.

“Now all we have are these last little bits.  We’ve lost most of the rest and I guess the current generation isn’t getting the same kind of training in these old traditions,” Waite said.

But he said superstitions will likely always be around, and there may even be new ones that come up.

“I think there’s this sort of this emotional need that people have, that we all have.  We all share this desire to have some sense of control over the forces around us,” Waite said.

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