Stephanie Bonica, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Bonica of Cottage st., figuratively tilted her pretty nose at superstition today as she smilingly posed holding a black cat, standing under a ladder and ignoring a broken mirror.
Stephanie is 13 years old today, Friday the 13th, a day of ominous portent in the Calender of Old Wives Tales.
Stephanie is a Junior high school pupil and didn’t hesitate a moment when asked to pose surrounded as it were with all the implements of superstition.
Some people are so superstitious about Friday the 13th they won’t get out of their beds, and maybe it’s just as well. If they did, there would be a good chance something would happen to them. Science says, no.
“Science doesn’t take any stock in superstitions,” says Dr. Lawrence W. Miller of the University of Denver, a psychologist well-versed in the reasons behind human behavior.
“Nevertheless, if you. are desperately fearful something is going to happen to you on Friday the Thirteenth, it is well to stay in bed.
“You may be so upset you’ll be off your guard or you may concentrate so deeply on one fear that your alertness to other dangers will be diminished.
“Something entirely different ¡ from which you had expected and planned a defense against may happen and take you unawares’. Thus trouble catches up with you on Friday the Thirteenth.”
Some superstitions, according: to Dr. Miller, are good for people.
“There were superstitions about crime, adultery and property rights in olden times,” says Dr. Miller. “For instance, the ghost of the victim was supposed to inhabit a murderer’s soul and torment it.
“Such beliefs tended to restrain murderous or criminal inclinations at a time when there were neither laws nor policemen.”
Many superstitions are dated so far in antiquity nothing authentic is known of their origin. It’s only a guess how many modern ones were started.
“Some students say the common superstition that it is bad luck to light three on a match had its origin in recent wars,” says Dr. Miller.
“If a soldier lighted his cigarette and kept the match burning long enough for two or more other men to get a light, enemy sharp shooters had time to take careful aim and fire upon the match holder.”
People who knock on wood to keen ill luck from intruding, usually after they have made a boast, are observing a ritual that once was a religious one.
“It was a prayer. They believed the crass cast a spell of good fortune about them. And so knocking on wood became an invitation to good “luck.”
The horseshoe probably is a sign of good luck because the horse has been a friend of man, Dr. Miller rays.
Other things, like four-leaf closers, are good luck symbols because of a series of coincidences probably occurred in which a person had good luck immediately after he found, or otherwise had some association with, a four-leaf clover or other object.
Similarly, cats and witches are symbols of ill luck. Incidentally, says Dr. Miller, the black cat superstition dates back to the age of black magic when darkness was a symbol of eerie things. People looked askance at anything black.
In one state a recent study disclosed 4.000 superstitions held by various citizens.