untitled design

Friday the 17th: what superstition do you believe in?

The month of November 2023 brings us a Friday the 17th. Let’s talk about bad luck that seems to lurk on this day, at least according to Italian tradition. Several times the Cicap, the Italian Committee for the Control of Claims on the Paranormal, organized a special anti-superstition day on Friday 17th to affirm that there is no truth in this and other beliefs. This year it is dedicated to the world of school with rituals, superstitions and spells, lucky clothing and the chance of being chosen for the questions.

Friday the 17th brings bad luck. Why?

Two elements considered negative, at least in the Italian or Greek-Latin tradition, come together in this combination: Friday, the day of Jesus’ death according to the Gospels and 17 which, according to the Greek Pythagoreans, was already the bearer of misfortune in the midst of 16 and 18 numbers perfect. The flood also began on the 17th (if you want to check Genesis 7-11).

And in ancient Rome?

There is also the possibility that the 17th brings bad luck since 9 AD when the seventeenth legion, together with two others, was exterminated by the Germans in Teutoburg. And again the confusion in the Middle Ages between the VIXI, which means “I lived”, engraved on tombs and the number 17, i.e. XVII for the ancient Romans.

13 lucky charms to face Friday the 17th

The black day, for the superstitious, always falls on Friday. The green of Ireland fights bad luck, like ladybugs, red horns and underwear (in China)



Forgive the difficult word. It means crazy fear of the 17th.

Is 17 positive for anyone?

Yes, the Jewish Cabbala considers it positive because it is the sum of three letters of the Hebrew alphabet that make up the word good.

Row 17?

It is unlikely to be on an Italian plane, it applies to the 13 always on a plane, but also as a floor of a building. The number 13 is also missing among the Formula One cars.

Why is it 13 for other countries?

The 13th at the Last Supper is the traitor Judas (and even 13 at the table does not bring good luck) and again in Scandinavian mythology the 13th demigod is the evil Loki, Thor’s half-brother, who arrives uninvited at the banquet of the gods. Coming after 12, a sacred number for Assyrians and Babylonians, already made it considered a bad luck charm. It was also a Friday the 13th when Philip the Fair, king of France, ordered the arrest of the Knights Templar.

Is it women’s fault?

There are also those who think this because the lunar months, traditionally linked to the female world, are 13, not the 12 of the solar calendar. Patriarchal society would therefore not love the number 13.

Who said that the black cat brings bad luck?

The poor felines were associated with witches in the Middle Ages and considered demonic. The witches themselves did not exist, of course, but the superstition remained and the black cat crossing the road was considered a harbinger of bad luck.


And at school?

Cicap toured Italy about university superstitions. The towers are cursed: if you climb the tower, you won’t graduate. This applies to the Torre degli Asinelli in Bologna, the Torre del Mangia in Siena and the leaning tower of Pisa. For the latter, however, the traditions do not agree: according to some, the graduation would only be postponed. How old? To be precise, as many as the number of turns around the tower while climbing. Other places to avoid for university students would be the Mole Antonelliana in Turin (the Cinema Museum located inside, however, would be “safe”) and Giotto’s bell tower in Florence because the artist died before completing his work. Opera.

Also pay attention to the statues, that of Minerva, in particular. In Pavia, where she has been camping since 1939, students know that they absolutely must not meet her gaze, or they will never graduate. There are some in Rome and Bari. In Florence there is no monument to the goddess of wisdom: the one at Savonarola takes care of carrying on the superstition. In Naples, however, it is forbidden to visit the statue of the Veiled Christ at the Sansevero Chapel Museum, especially if you are studying art.

See more

Vanity Fair Stories is approaching: to register click here

Appointment at the Lirico theater in Milan on 25 and 26 November


You must not visit the cathedrals of Milan, Trento and Florence (climbing the dome would be particularly dangerous, especially for those studying architecture); and then, again, the Scrovegni chapel in Padua, the baptistery of San Giovanni in Parma, the birthplace of D’Annunzio in Pescara, the Este castle in Ferrara, the Church of Santa Maria della Spina in Pisa. The numerous bridges in Venice are also dangerous: tripping over them would bring bad luck for the next exam.

In Urbino the House of Raphael, the Albani Museum and the Palazzo Ducale would bring bad luck. As councilor in 2015 Vittorio Sgarbi rudely made a proclamation. «No student, of any degree course and of any year, will be able to take the exams without presenting, together with the booklet, the entrance ticket, with stamp and date, of the Doge’s Palace and the House of Raphael. Access to museums must be certified. The teacher will note, at each exam, the visit that took place and will reserve any questions about the works exhibited within the museums. Students may also be issued, by concession of the municipal administration, an access card to the exhibitions at favorable conditions. The legend that has made the university city and the museums of Urbino incommunicable cannot be tolerated any longer. It appears, in fact, in contrast with knowledge, with learning, with science.”

X content

This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.

Before graduating you can’t even go to the bar. Avoid the Pedrocchi café in Padua and the Sandri pastry shop in Perugia. In Padua, someone hypothesizes that Pedrocchi’s fame derives from a news story: in 1848, a student was injured there. The only room that would not attract bad luck would be the green room: the one where you can traditionally sit without consuming. In Perugia, however, superstition leads students to avoid even passing by the Sandri pastry shop. Once you have the scroll, however, it is almost obligatory to go there to celebrate.

It would be bad luck to pass under the Arch of Augustus in Rimini, that of Corso Zanardelli in Brescia, the one that connects Piazza dei Cavalieri to Via Dalmazia in Pisa and the arch of the Normale library. In Siena, students avoid the arches of Piazza del Campo. Uncertainty dominates the superstitions of the State University of Milan, and in particular the entrance to the Filarete courtyard: a tradition has it that one should never go through the middle door; the other, to avoid the two side doors. In Padua it would be bad luck to skip the chain at the entrance to Palazzo del Bo. In general, it seems that the legends advise students against using the quickest routes to get to their destination.

There are numerous places not to tread on: the mosaic of the She-Wolf in Piazza Sant’Oronzo in Lecce, the pebbles in the courtyard of Villa Cerami in the Law department in Catania, the star on the floor of the internal courtyard of Tor Vergata in Rome, the white diamond in the center of the Law cloister in Genoa ; while in Venice there is a red brick that absolutely must not be touched.

The panorama is varied and multifaceted, even if some superstitions are very similar, and, from an anthropological point of view, they seem to communicate a general invitation to humility and hard work: avoid places that are too high up or frequented by those who have already graduated, tourist and leisure areas; follow safe, obligatory paths, with dedication, without expecting to do things too quickly and skip ahead.

Source: Vanity Fair

You may also like

Get the latest

Stay Informed: Get the Latest Updates and Insights


Most popular