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Subtopic 1: Superstitions


1. Discuss these questions:

  • Do you believe in ghosts?
  • Have you (or has anyone you know) ever had your fortune told?
  • Have you ever had a dream that predicted the future?
  • Are any of the following believed to be unlucky or lucky in your country:

a black cat crossing the road in front of you, walking under a ladder, spilling salt, keeping your fingers crossed

2. Do activity 15.1 B, C.


3.You’ll hear the story (activity 15.1 D) . Discuss your reactions to it with a partner.

4.Do you know what the following superstition mean. If you don't know try to guess:

  1. If you cut an apple in half and count how many seeds are inside, you will also know - ?????
  2. If a bee enters your home, it's a sign that - ????
  3. If you kill the bee, you will have - ????
  4. If you sweep trash out the door after dark, it will bring - ????
  5. If someone is sweeping the floor and sweeps over you feet - ????
  6. If the first butterfly you see in the year is white - ???
  7. If a candle lighted as part of ceremony blows out it is a sign that - ????
  8. If your cheeks suddenly feel on fire - ???
  9. If your right ear itches - ???
  10. If your left ear itches-???
  11. If the bottom of your right foot itches - ???
  12. To break a mirror means - ???
  13. Under the bed of a sick person will- ???
  14. If you sing before seven - ???
  15. If you drop scissors it means that - ???
  16. If you bite your tongue while eating, its Because - ???
  17. Dropping an umbrella on the floor means -???

5.Do you know how Friday the thirteenth became such an unlucky day? Read the information below and express your attitude towards the " FRIDAY THE 13TH?" Do you follow the given precautions?

A particularly bad Friday the 13th occurred in the middle ages. On a Friday the 13th in 1306, King Philip of France arrested the revered Knights Templar and began torturing them, marking the occasion as a day of evil.

In ancient Rome, witches reportedly gathered in groups of 12. The 13th was believed to be the devil. Both Friday and the number 13 were once closely associated with capital punishment. In British tradition, Friday was the conventional day for public hangings, and there were supposedly 13 steps leading up to the noose.

It is traditionally believed that Eve tempted Adam with the apple on a Friday. Tradition also has it that the Flood in the Bible, the confusion at the Tower of Babel, and the death of Jesus Christ all took place on Friday.

Numerologists consider 12 a "complete" number. There are 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 apostles of Jesus. In exceeding 12 by 1, 13's association with bad luck has to do with just being a little beyond completeness.

6. Can you give some examples of how is fear of the number thirteen demonstrated? If not, read the information below.

More than 80 percent of high-rises lack a 13th floor.
Many airports skip the 13th gate.
Airplanes have no 13th aisle.

Hospitals and hotels regularly have no room number 13.
Italians omit the number 13 from their national lottery.

On streets in Florence, Italy, the house between number 12 and 14 is addressed as 12 and a half.

Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue

In France, socialites known as the quatorziens (four-teeners) once made themselves available as 14th guests to keep a dinner party from an unlucky fate.

Many triskaidekaphobes, as those who fear the unlucky integer are known, point to the ill-fated mission to the moon, Apollo 13.

If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil's luck . Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all have 13 letters in their names.



1. A What do you know about superstitions? Read the information below and state your point of view on the problems raised.

Superstition is a term used by critics for a belief that isn't based on reason. This belief may be faith based on revealed truth or it may be related to magical thinking. Critics argue that it arises from ignorance or fear. Some argue that superstition springs from religious feelings that re misdirected or unenlightened, which leads in some cases to rigor in religious opinions or practice, and in other cases to belief in extraordinary events or in charms, omens, and prognostics. Many superstitions can be prompted by misunderstandings of causality or statistics. Any of the above can lead to unfolded fears, or excessive scrupulosity in outward observances.

1.BRead the superstitions below. Do you believe in them/some of them? Why? Will you follow the given instructions?

· YAWN A yawn is a sign that danger is near. Cover your mouth when you yawn, or your soul can go out of your body along with the yawn.

· BELL The sound of bells drives away demons because they're afraid of the loud noise.

· APPLE Think of five or six names of boys or girls you might marry. As you twist the stem of an apple, recite the names until the stem comes off. You will marry the person whose name you were saying when the stem fell off.

· AMBULANCE Seeing an ambulance is very unlucky unless you pinch your nose or hold your breath until you see a black or a brown dog.

· BABY To predict the sex of a baby: Suspend a wedding band held by a piece of thread over the palm of the pregnant girl. If the ring swings in an oval or circular motion the baby will be a girl. If the ring swings in a straight line the baby will be a boy.

· BED It's bad luck to put a hat on a bed. If you make a bedspread, or a quilt, be sure to finish it or marriage will never come to you. Placing a bed facing north and south brings misfortune. You must get out of bed on the same side that you get in or you will have bad luck. When making the bed, don't interrupt your work, or you will spend a restless night in it

· CIGARETTES It is bad luck to light three cigarettes with the same match.

· COUGH To cure a cough: take a hair from the coughing person's head, put it between two slices of buttered bread, feed it to a dog, and say, "Eat well you hound, may you be sick and I be sound."

· CLOVER It's good luck to find a four-leaf clover. Clover protects human beings and animals from the spell of magicians and the wiles of fairies, and brings good luck to those who keep it in the house.

· ELEPHANT Pictures of an elephant bring luck, but only if they face a door.

· EYELASH If an eyelash falls out, put it on the back of the hand, make a wish and throw it over your shoulder. If it flies off the hand the wish will be granted.

Two's luck,
Three's health,
Four's wealth,
Five's sickness,
Six is death.

· FINGERNAILS It is bad luck to cut your fingernails on Friday or Sunday. Fingernail cuttings should be saved, burned, or buried.

· ITCH If your nose itches you will soon be kissed by a fool.

If your nose itches
Your mouth is in danger.
You'll kiss a fool,
And meet a stranger.
Rub an itch to wood
It will come to good.

· IVY Ivy growing on a house protects the inhabitants from witchcraft and evil.

· KNIFE A knife as a gift from a lover means that the love will soon end. A knife placed under the bed during childbirth will ease the pain of labor. If a friend gives you a knife, you should give him a coin, or your friendship will soon be broken. It will cause a quarrel if knives are crossed at the table. It is bad luck to close a pocket knife unless you were the one who opened it.

Knife falls, gentleman calls;

Fork falls, lady calls;

Spoon falls, baby calls.

· LADDER It is bad luck to walk under a ladder.

· LADYBUG If a young girl catches a ladybug and then releases it, the direction in which it flies away will be the direction from which her future husband will come. It is bad luck to kill a ladybug.

· PENCIL If you use the same pencil to take a test that you used for studying for the test, the pencil will remember the answers.

· PEPPER If you spill pepper you will have a serious argument with your best friend.

· PHOTOGRAPH If 3 people are photographed together, the one in the middle will die first.

· SALT Bad luck will follow the spilling of salt unless a pinch is thrown over the left shoulder into the face of the devil waiting there.
Put salt on the doorstep of a new house and no evil can enter.
Salty soup is a sign that the cook is in love.

· SEA GULL Three seagulls flying together, directly overhead, are a warning of death soon to come.

· SHOES Do not place shoes upon a table, for this will bring bad luck for the day, cause trouble with your mate and you might even lose your job as a result. It's bad luck to leave shoes upside down.

· SLEEP You sleep best with your head to the north and your feet to the south.

· SNEEZE Place a hand in front of your mouth when sneezing. Your soul may escape otherwise.

· The devil can enter your body when you sneeze. Having someone say, "God bless you," drives the devil away.

If you sneeze on a Monday, you sneeze for danger;

Sneeze on a Tuesday, kiss a stranger;

Sneeze on a Wednesday, sneeze for a letter;

Sneeze on a Thursday, something better;

Sneeze on a Friday, sneeze for sorrow;

Sneeze on a Saturday, see your sweetheart tomorrow.

Sneeze on a Sunday, and the devil will have domination over you all week.

One for sorrow

Two for joy

Three for a letter

Four for a boy.

Five for silver

Six for gold

Seven for a secret, never to be told

· SPIDER Seeing a spider run down a web in the afternoon means you'll take a trip. A spider is a repellent against plague when worn around the neck in a walnut shell.

· STARS All wishes on shooting stars come true.

· X The number of Xs in the palm of your right hand is the number of children you will have.

1. CWhat superstitions about cats do you know? Read the information below and share it in class. Do you believe in them/some of them?

The Cat as a Soothsayer

· Cats can forecast the weather: they predict the wind by clawing at carpets and curtains; rain is highly likely when a cat busily washes its ears.

· In mythology, the cat was believed to have great influence on the weather. Witches who rode on storms took the form of cats. The dog, an attendant of the storm king Odin, was a symbol of wind. Cats came to symbolize down-pouring rain, and dogs to symbolize strong gusts of wind. This may be where the phrase "it's raining cats and dogs" originated

· Some people believed that if a cat washes its face and paws in the parlor, company's coming.

· If a cat continually looks out a window on any day, rain is on the way.

· Some cats can predict earthquakes (actually, there is some truth in this "folklore").

· When a girl living in the Ozark Mountains received a proposal of marriage and was uncertain whether to accept, she folded and placed 3 hairs from a cat's tail into a paper under her doorstep The next morning, she would unfold the paper to see if the hairs had formed themselves into a Y or N before answering her suitor.

· Sailors used cats to predict the voyages they were about to embark upon. Loudly mewing cats meant that it would be a difficult voyage. A playful cat meant that it would be a voyage with good and gusty winds.

· Some people believe that cats are able to see the human aura, the energy field that surrounds each of us.

· If early American cats sat with their backs to the fire, the owners knew it foretold a cold snap.

· A cat sleeping with all four paws tucked under means bad weather is coming.

· Some people believe that cats may be able to see the specter of death.

· If a cat washes behind its ears, it will rain (no doubt this superstition began in some very rainy country!)

· If you find a white hair on a black cat, you will have good luck.

· One Roman dream interpretation was that dreaming of being badly scratched by a cat foretold sickness and trouble.

· French peasants thought that black cats could find buried treasure, if they followed a specific ritual find an intersection where 5 roads connected, then turn the cat loose and follow him.

· Tortoiseshell cats were believed to be able to see into the future and could give the gift to a lucky child in the household.

· Sailors believed that if a cat licked its fur against the grain it meant a hailstorm was coming; if it sneezed, rain was on the way; and if it was frisky, the wind would soon blow. When the pupil of a cat's eye broadens, there will be rain. - Welsh superstition

· The Pennsylvania Dutch place a cat in an empty cradle of a newlywed couple. The cat was supposed to grant their wish for children.

· In Scandinavia, the cat stood for fertility.

· It was a popular belief that cats could start storms through magic stored in their tails - so sailors always made sure that they were well-fed and contented.

· When you see a one-eyed cat, spit on your thumb, stamp it in the palm of your hand, and make a wish. The wish will come true. - American superstition

· A black cat crossing one's path by moonlight means death in an epidemic. - Irish superstition

· The Hindu believed the cat was the symbol for childbirth.

· A strange black cat on your porch brings prosperity. - Scottish superstition

Harming a Cat

· If you kick a cat, you will develop rheumatism in that leg.

· If you are a farmer and kill a cat, you can expect your cattle to die mysteriously.

· If you drown a cat, you will fall victim to a drowning.

· Sailors believed that the worst possible cat-related act, guaranteed to raise a storm and bring bad luck of all sorts, was to throw the cat overboard.

· Some people who wanted to get rid of a cat but were afraid of the consequences went so far as to hire professional feline "hit men."

· To end even one of a cat's 9 lives was to risk being haunted by that particular cat for the rest of the murderer's life.

· To kill a cat brings seventeen years of bad luck -Irish superstition

Cats and Luck

· English schoolchildren believed seeing a white cat on the way to school was sure to bring trouble. To prevent the bad luck, they were to spit or turn around completely and make the sign of the cross.

· Charles I, king of England, owned a black cat that he felt brought him luck. He was so afraid of losing it that he had it guarded day and night. As it happened, the day after the cat died, he was arrested.

· A cat sneezing is a good omen for everyone who hears it. - Italian superstition

· Dreaming of a cat is sometimes regarded as a sign of bad luck in the future. On the other hand, American folklore has it that dreaming of a white cat is good luck.

· In France, it is believed that if you find one white hair on a black cat, Lady Luck will smile upon you.

· In Yorkshire, England, while it is lucky to own a black cat, it is extremely unlucky to come across one accidentally.

· In the early 16th century, a visitor to an English home would always kiss the family cat to bring good luck.

· In the Dark Ages, a cat was mortared, while still alive, into the foundation of a building to ensure good luck to the inhabitants.

· It is bad luck to cross a stream carrying a cat. - French superstition

· Fishermen's wives kept a black cat at home to prevent disaster at sea.

· It is bad luck to see a white cat at night. - American superstition

· To see a white cat on the road is lucky. - American supersition

Meeting a Cat

· If a cat ran ahead of a sailor to the pier, it was believed that would bring good luck; if the cat crossed his path, it would bring bad luck.

· Cats were often kept on board ships to bring good luck. If a sailor was approached by the ship's cat it meant good luck, but if the cat only came halfway, it meant bad luck would befall the sailor.

· It is bad luck to see a white cat at night.

· In Ireland, having your moonlit path crossed by a black cat was thought to foretell death in an epidemic.

· In France, there is a superstition that it is bad luck to cross a stream carrying a cat.

· When you see a one-eyed cat, spit on your thumb, stamp it in the middle of your palm, and make a wish. The wish will come true.

· In Normandy, seeing a tortoiseshell cat foretold death by accident.

Cats and the Sick, Dying, and Dead

· At one time, people believed that fur and blood drawn from various parts of the cat's anatomy cured all ailments.

· Early American colonists believed that a broth made from boiling a black cat would cure tuberculosis, but no one wanted to risk the bad luck that would befall them if they killed the cat.

· A common folk cure for a stye on the eyelid was to rub it with the tail of a black cat.

· In Transylvania, if a cat jumps over a corpse, the corpse will become a vampire.

· In 16th century Italy, people believed that if a black cat lay on the bed of a sick man, he would die. However, they also believed that a cat will not remain in the house where someone is about to die - if the family cat refused to stay indoors, this was a bad omen.

· Immigrants from Scotland believed that if a cat entered a room where a dead body was in state, the next person to touch the cat would be blinded. Therefore, the cat in such situations was immediately killed.

· If a funeral procession encountered a black cat, they believed another member of the family would soon die.

· The folklore that a cat has 9 lives possibly came about because #9 is the "trinity of trinities" and was considered lucky.

· A cat has 9 lives. For 3 he plays, for 3 he strays, and for the last 3 he stays. (an American and English proverb)

· If cats desert a house, illness will always reign there. - English supersition

· In Normandy, seeing a tortoiseshell fortells death by accident.

· A cat on top of a tombstone meant certainly that the soul of the departed buried was possessed by the devil. Two cats seen fighting near a dying person, or on the grave shortly after a funeral, are really the Devil and an Angel fighting for possesion of the soul.- old English superstitions

2.1Read the text “The Science of Superstitions” and comment upon the problem raised.

Date: 2015-12-17; view: 875

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