A pigeon poops on a statue's head

Liam – October 29, 2018

I’ve always been a superstitious person. It goes against all reason, I know, but I can’t help it. I’m so superstitious that I would not be opposed to outlawing all ladders and black cats.

I’m kidding, of course. My in-laws have a black cat named Smokey, and while I can’t prove his path has ever caused anyone’s luck to sour, I never let him cross mine. My in-laws also have a ladder.

A black cat stands on a sidewalk with "Room 13" written at the upper left and a ladder featured at lower right.

Perhaps unfairly, black cats, ladders and hotel rooms numbered 13 have a bad rap for being unlucky.

My superstitious leanings get a boost during the fall because of Halloween. I know it’s not a superstitious holiday, but all the macabre that makes its way to the store aisles and bar window dressings reminds me to avoid sidewalk cracks, lest my mother unexpectedly throw her back out again.

It could be my Danish blood that makes me this way. The Danes have plenty of superstitions, many of which are pretty standard throughout the world. Broken mirrors are bad luck, spilling salt won’t do you any favors either, but a bird using your head as a toilet is a good thing!

Danes also prefer to avoid the number 13 — sort of, which I’ll get to in a moment. Most Danish hotels do not have a Room 13. This includes Copenhagen’s Hotel d’Angleterre, one of the world’s first luxury hotels. The current building has been standing since the late 1700s, and though it has seen extensive renovations throughout the last 200-plus years, a Room 13 was never once on any blueprints.

And yet, the number 13 isn’t all bad. At least, not when it’s teamed up with a seven and a nine. Superstitious Danes will use the phrase “syv–ni–tretten” (7–9–13) in an effort to avoid jinxing themselves after stating good news or a hope of some kind. For example, if I said, “The Bears are looking pretty good this season,” I’d follow it up by saying, “Syv–ni–tretten.” And then, as Eddie Floyd would have us do, I’d knock on wood three times, once for each number. It’s unclear why these three numbers have any superstitious significance, but it’s assumed that it has something to do with the grouping of lucky numbers (7 and 9) with the unlucky (13).

Superstitious Danes believe that one sneeze is good luck, two consecutive sneezes means a kiss is coming your way…but beware of sneezing while tying your shoes!

Sneezing has some tricky mojo attached to it as well. One sneeze is good luck, two consecutive sneezes means a kiss is coming your way, but should you sneeze while tying your shoes…it’s bad. That would be very, very bad. Run.

Although the fall season causes a spike in my superstitious neurosis, thanks in part to my Danish ancestry, it also causes a spike in my desire to cozy up with friends and family and enjoy their company while we keep each other warm — far away from broken mirrors, obviously. In Danish culture, this is called hygge (HOO-gah).

The Danish Home of Chicago is creating a hygge all its own once again with the Annual Fall Fest, this year on Sunday, Nov. 4. The festivities include a home-cooked frikadeller dinner, live entertainment in a heated tent on the east lawn, gift booths, homemade baked goods, a Danish mini-deli, a chance to win $500 and other prizes, and much more.

The Danish Home’s Fall Fest is a great way to embrace the beauty and hygge of Autumn.

After that, the other thing I know I must do this fall is figure out this black cat thing. Apparently, only one in four Danes thinks black cats are harbingers of bad luck. Maybe I ought to make nice with Smokey. Although, I worry how bad things will get for me if I sneeze.