Here’s a holiday you might not have known existed until the end of this sentence: Today is National Open An Umbrella Indoors Day. For those of us incredibly superstitious folk, even reading that might be a cause for alarm, especially since it also happens to fall on the same day as the dreaded Friday the 13th. While I’ve survived plenty of Friday the 13ths unscathed, I have to say I have always been wary of this umbrella superstition — in fact, I’m still convinced that it was someone opening an umbrella that got Parks and Recreation pulled off the air in the first place. WHAT RECKLESS HUMAN DID THIS TO US ALL?!
Alas, the truth is we will never know for sure whether there is a real correlation between superstitions and the bad luck that supposedly follows them. Science just isn’t equipped to figure out whether or not that black cat crossing your path made you get a D on your history midterm. What we do know is how all of these superstitions began in the first place. In honor of this momentous day of inside umbrella opening, here are some of the most prominent superstitions explained:
Opening an umbrella indoors
There are several theories as to how this superstition came about, but the most popular one dates back to the ancient Egyptians. Back then umbrellas were used to protect nobility from the sun, and to ward off bad spirits. It was considered disrespectful to the God of the Sun to open them in places the sun couldn’t reach. (Apparently the sun god was not so great with FOMO.)
The number 13
Taylor Swift may embrace this number as her down and out favorite, but 10% of the world claims to fear the number 13. Historians theorize that it wasn’t one event that caused this, but a series on them: the number 13 was accidentally omitted from Hammurabi’s Code; the 13th apostle was the traitor Judas; Loki, the most hated Nordic God, showed up uninvited as the 13th guest to a dinner. While we would fangirl through the roof if Tom Hiddleston crashed one of our parties now, back then it was #rude.
As for why Friday the 13th in particular is unlucky, nobody knows exactly when it began. Some people argue it was during the Middle Ages, when people made speculations about it being connected to the Last Supper, but others say that there isn’t any written record proving the superstition’s existence until the 19th Century. Apparently we’re just really good at spontaneously creating things we should be afraid of!