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Teachers' blog


【日本と米国に伝わる迷信について: The Wishbone and Crossing Your Fingers 】





Hello everyone! During the Halloween season, people in America tend to be more conscious about their superstitions, so I thought that would be a good topic for this week since we celebrated Halloween quite recently.


A superstition is a belief that doing a certain thing will cause something very big to happen in your life. Typically, superstitions are about things that will bring you good or bad luck.


For example, in Japan one of the biggest superstitions I have found is the fear of the number 4 because it represents death. In fact, the previous apartment I lived in refused to have a room with the number 4 in it, and numbered its rooms directly from 3 to 5, leaving it out completely!


In America, we have a similar fear regarding the number 13. The reason the number 13 is considered unlucky has several theorized roots, but the most popular theory relates the fear of 13 to Christianity. During the Last Supper, the last person to arrive (who later betrayed Jesus) was said to have been the 13th person to be seated at the table. This superstition is also believed to have roots in an Old Norse legend with a similar narrative. To top it off, gallows (where death sentences were carried out a long time ago) were said to traditionally have 13 steps leading up to them. Like Japan, this superstition has led to some numbering difficulties. For example, some airlines don’t have a 13th row of seats and a number of tall buildings skip between the 12th and 14th floor with no 13th floor in between them.


Another prominent superstition in America that has actually found its way to Japan would be the fear of black cats. In America, it is said that if a black cat crosses your path, you will have bad luck. This originally stems from a fear of witches in earlier times. Black cats were a target during witch hunts, because they were suspected of being ‘familiars‘ (assistants to witches). This also has an impact on modern day America regardless of its old origins. There are some people to this day who are afraid of black cats, and on Halloween, there is a rise in incidents regarding animal cruelty towards them. There is a boost in popularity for black cats as pets around Halloween as well.


There are many other superstitions in America, but I will leave them for now. Next time, I will cover some more superstitions or traditions, including some that are regularly seen around the Thanksgiving season.

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