Friday the 13th and Superstitious Lancashire

Lancashire is a very superstitious place, and there are many superstitions associated with Fridays even when they aren’t the 13th of the month.

The origin of Friday being unlucky is often associated with it being the day on which Jesus was crucified, and the number 13 represents the number who were present at the Last Supper.  But it seems that it is also unlucky because when people began to convert to Christianity the old Norse gods were banished, including Frigga or Freya, after whom Friday is named.  It seems that she was called a witch and it was beleived that on Fridays she met with eleven other witches plus the devil to make a coven of 13, to plan bad luck for the coming week.  In some places Friday is known as the ‘witches’ sabbath’.

In Lancashire, the fisherman were particularly afraid of Freya and boats from the port of Fleetwood would not put to sea on Friday 13th.

And please don’t cut your fingernails on a Friday.  That is bound to bring bad luck as explained in this rhyme – though cutting them on a Sunday may bring even worse luck:

Cut your nails on a Monday, cut them for news;
Cut them on Tuesday for a new pair of shoes;
Cut them on Wednesday, cut them for health;
Cut them on Thursday, cut them for wealth;
Cut them on Friday, cut them for woe;
Cut them on Saturday, a journey you’ll go;
Cut them on Sunday, you cut them for evil,
For all the next week you’ll be ruled by the Devil.

You also need to be careful which day you sneeze on:

Sneeze on a Monday, you sneeze for danger;
Sneeze on a Tuesday, you kiss a stranger;
Sneeze on a Wednesday, you sneeze for a letter;
Sneeze on a Thursday, for something better;
Sneeze on a Friday, you sneeze for sorrow;
Sneeze on a Saturday, see your sweetheart tomorrow;
Sneeze on a Sunday, your safety seek,
For the Devil will have you the whole of the week.

It is also unlucky to marry on a Friday.  And it is improper for a courting couple to meet on a Friday.  If they do they are liable to be followed home by a crowd of people beating pans – although nobody seems to know why.

And speaking of weddings it is important to get the colour of your wedding gown right to ensure future happiness:

Married in red, wish yourself dead.
Married in yellow, ashamed of your fellow.
Married in blue, they’ll never be true
Married in green, ashamed to be seen
Married in white, married all right.

Many superstitions are connected with the moon.  A full moon shining in through the window after children have gone to bed will cause them to go mad.  If the new moon is lying on its back it is ‘holding water’ and it will rain. But be careful about looking at a new moon.  It’s unlucky to see it through glass and if you do you must turn over some money in your pocket.

Other superstitions include not putting new shoes on the table as it will bring bad luck.  And if you accidentally put an item of clothing on inside out you must leave it like that because it is unlucky to take it off and put it on again the right way. 

But the weirdest Lancashire superstition that I’ve come across is that eating fried mice will cure bedwetting.  I’m sure the very thought is enough to cause it!   

Stay safe today.  There are two more Friday the 13ths to come this year – on 13th April and 13th July.  And remember that searching for information about Friday 13th on Friday 13th is – you’ve guessed it – unlucky!

3 thoughts on “Friday the 13th and Superstitious Lancashire

  1. Elizabeth, I do like your posts! I’ve heard the sneezing rhyme before, but not the one about cutting nails… and certainly not the one about eating fried mice!

  2. In magical lore, friday is the day associated with love/fertility goddesses such as venus & Ishtar, so interesting to see Freya mentioned too (as well as her name being given to the day!)

  3. Ha! I read recently that an old Cumbrian cure for anaemia was potted slugs.

    I’ve often wondered if the unlucky associations of the number 13 pre-date Scot’s Discoverie or the Malleus. The stories have an echo of that era, and only that era, to me.

    Lovely post 🙂

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