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Freaky Friday: 13 Wacky Superstitions From Around The World

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Memo to gods of doom everywhere: You don't scare me today, even though it's Friday the 13th.

I can't say for sure why I've never been a 13th-o-phobe. Maybe it's because I grew up Catholic and celebrated "Good" Fridays every year -- even when they fell on the 13th. Or maybe it's because I now live in New York City, where the only bad luck you'll typically encounter -- like a Con Ed blackout or a cabbies' strike -- happen whenever they damn well please.

So if I cross paths with a black cat today, I'll probably say, "Nice kitty." Or if I accidentally break a mirror, I'll just find another one. I can be practical that way.

This doesn't mean I'm not superstitious. As an actor, I faithfully abide by three enduring myths of our profession:

  • One is never supposed to say "good luck" to a fellow actor before the opening of a play because, ironically, that will ensure bad luck. Instead, you're supposed to say, "Break a leg!" which is traced to an archaic reference to curtsying or bowing -- both of which require the bending of the leg at the knee.
  • It is absolutely forbidden to utter the name Macbeth when you are inside a theatre (unless you're performing in the play, of course). That's because the Shakespeare classic is allegedly cursed. Instead, you're supposed to refer to the drama as "The Scottish Play" -- and if you forget and accidentally say Macbeth's name, you have to immediately "leave the theatre building, spin around three times, spit, curse, and then knock to be allowed back in." Quite an ordeal. Better to just say "the Scottish play."
  • You know how you always see pictures of a darkened theatre stage at night, illuminated by a single lamp with a bare bulb? That's because every theatre is believed to be haunted, and the lone "ghost light" is left on stage as a courtesy to any lingering ghouls. At one point, the Actors Equity union even mandated the presence of such a lamp in every theatre.

So now you know for sure: actors are truly crazy.

But don't let my personal fearlessness of today's spookiness dampen your (evil) spirits. In honor of Friday the 13th, here's a roundup of 13 of the zanier superstitions from around the globe. If you're squeamish about things like goats, witches and bird poop, good luck getting through them. I mean...break a leg!

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