Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day in Western superstition. It occurs when the 13th day of the month in the Gregorian calendar falls on a Friday, which can be the case at least once every year, and up to three times a year. In 2017, it occurs twice, on January 13 and October 13. There will be two Friday the 13ths per year until 2020, where 2021 and 2022 will have just one occurrence.
The superstition surrounding this day may have arisen in the Middle Ages, originating from the story of Jesus' last supper and crucifixion in which there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan (Maundy Thursday), the night before his death on Good Friday. While there is evidence of both Friday and the number 13 being considered unlucky, there is no record of the two items being referred to as especially unlucky in conjunction before the 19th century.
In Spanish-speaking countries, instead of Friday, Tuesday the 13th (martes trece) is considered a day of bad luck. Latinos also have other crazy superstitions, from adopting dead bodies to rubbing umbilical cords on kids faces. Here are just a few of them:
Colombia’s Adopted Corpses
No body -- that’s not a typo -- is lonely in Colombia, where unclaimed bodies are regularly “adopted” by those seeking to give them a peaceful resting place. According to the Miami Herald, two forces drive the custom of taking in NNs (No Names). Many families in the war-torn country have lost loved ones to paramilitaries, guerillas and narco gangs without ever recovering their bodies. Others believe that NNs have supernatural powers and can respond to prayers. In either case, NNs are renamed by their caretakers and their graves are accompanied with altars and offerings.
Nothing generates superstition like industries with high mortality rates. In the mines around Potosi, around 15 miners die each month, according to the BBC. Unable to control their working conditions, workers resort to prayer. The object of their offerings is El Tio, the demonic lord of the underworld. He is fond of candy, alcohol, cigarettes and coca leaves, which are showered over altars of his likeness.
Venezolanas’ Yellow Underwear:
Though participation has declined, according to clothing vendors, many Venezuelan (and Bolivian) woman still believe that yellow underwear bring financial prosperity. Money not your biggest problem? Try wearing green or red, say Latin American bloggers.
Dominican Republic’s Baseball Gloves
Baby girls born in the D.R. are showered in pink ribbons, but boys get a more functional amulet. According to the sports sociology book “American Game, Dominican Dream” published by Yale Press, Dominican parents often place baseball gloves on boys’ cribs with the hopes that they will be professionals on a diamond. It might be working. Dominicans are the most represented group of non-Americans in the MLB, beating out Japan, Canada and Venezuela.
Everywhere In Latin America And Spain: Mal De Ojo
Mal de Ojo, also known as the “evil eye,” is the rampant superstition that a bad look can curse people, especially children. In Central America, dried umbilical cords are allegedly a remedy for this crazy malady. For more Mal de Ojo cures, check out Evil Eye Superstition: 5 Ways ‘Mal de Ojo’ Is Cured In Latin America