Today is Friday the 13th (the second one of 2017!) and in many countries and cultures around the world, this day is considered unlucky. Not everyone in the world thinks today is unlucky, as there are countries and cultures that are superstitious of other numbers. But because today is Friday the 13th, I thought I’d share some of the numerous animal related superstitions (some involve good luck, others are bad) from all around the world. Some include:
- In western and Christian cultures, black cats are often considered to be bad luck (although there are a few good omens around black cats). This bad reputation has followed black cats around for centuries, having really taken hold in Europe during the Middle Ages. Pope Gregory IX, for example, declared these cats to be an incarnation of the devil himself in 1233 AD and the association of black cats with witchcraft lasted for centuries. Some believed that cats in general were witches’ familiars while black cats were specifically believed to be witches in disguise. That association lasted until the famous witch trials that occurred in the 16th and 17th centuries, where you could be accused of being a witch (and subsequently condemned to death) for just owning a black cat.
- For more cat related superstitions, here is a great list of 14 different cat legends from around the world!
- The albatross is often thought to be good luck by some sailors and it’s thought that the bird’s habit of flying next to ships meant they housed the spirits of drowned sailors. Sighting an albatross from sea was also thought to be good luck, as sailors would mistakenly think that seeing one meant there was land nearby (albatrosses will often only go to land to breed).
- There are a few animal superstitions in France, including that stepping in dog poo with your left foot brings good luck but stepping in poo with your right will doom you. There’s also the superstition that if a woman who’s nine months pregnant sees an owl, she’s guaranteed to have a girl!
- Dogs also have a few different superstitions around them. If they go under a table, for example, a storm is said to be on its way! And there’s a story by W.H.C Pynchon about a black dog living in the hills of Connecticut in which the dog brings omens for the different times you see it. The first time will be for joy, the second time for sorrow, and see it a third time, you’ll die.
I do want to add that because of the superstitions that exist around black dogs and cats, there are some anecdotes that seem to suggest that these animals have a harder time being adopted. The Loup Garou Animal Rescue is a nonprofit in Northern California black and dark coated companion animals and there’s also the Black Dog Syndrome, a nonprofit that works on helping black dogs get adopted through education and programs. However, from the brief research I’ve done on this, most of the evidence supporting the idea that black dogs and cats have a harder time getting adopted are anecdotally based. The research around this topic, from the little time I spent reading about it, doesn’t seem to come to a single conclusion.
These are just some of the many animal related superstitions that exist in the world. Do you know of any other animal related superstitions? Let me know in the comments and I hope you and your animals all have a safe Friday the 13th!