On Friday, January 13, 2017, Finnair flight 666 flew to Helsinki International Airport (abbreviated HEL) taking off at 13:00 local time with an aircraft that is 13 years old. Surprisingly enough, it landed safely.
Some knife makers attach a coin to each knife they sell, to circumvent the superstition that giving someone a knife as a gift severs the relationship: the receiver can ‘pay’ for the knife by returning the coin to the person who gave the knife to them, turning the gift into a ‘purchase’.
The reason people believe breaking a mirror brings 7 years of bad luck is due to ancient Romans believing life renewed itself every 7 years and that breaking a mirror would damage one’s self until the next 7 year renewal period.
Gustav Mahler was superstitious and strongly believed in the Curse of the Ninth, where composers can only compose nine symphonies before they die. He tried to beat superstition by calling his 9th symphonic work a “song cycle,” then began work on his 10th symphony and died.
The superstition that the position of stars during your birth affects your life was refuted by the mathematician Pythagoras, by simply pointing out that twins don’t have the same future.
“Knock on wood” derived from Pagans touching, tapping or knocking on trees believing they were the homes of fairies and dryads who would wake and bless them with luck.
Number 4 is considered an unlucky number in China because it is nearly homophonous to the word “death” (pinyin sǐ). In a study of five years’ worth of real estate sales in the greater Vancouver area, researchers found that houses in Chinese neighborhoods with an address containing a 4 sold for an average of $8,000 less than their luckier counterparts.
A goat was once arrested in Nigeria after vigilantes claimed it was an armed robber who turned himself into a goat with black magic.
Women have historically been barred from cooking sushi due to a superstition that their hands are too warm.
Psychologist B. F. Skinner got pigeons to repeat strange “rituals” by dropping food into their cage at random intervals — the birds associated their actions before the treats with reward, and demonstrated superstitious repetition of those actions.