WATCH AND LISTEN
A. Choose the superstitions that you hear mentioned in the video.
1 wearing red for good luck
2 crossing fingers for luck
3 the thirteenth floor of tall buildings
4 Loki the Norse god of evil
5 the number 7 being lucky
6 tossing a coin in a fountain
7 leaving chopsticks in a bowl of rice
8 dumping coconuts off a boat
9 leaving shoes overturned
10 walking under ladders
B. Choose the correct answers according to the information in the video.
1 Most cultures have __________ ideas about luck.
a very different
b very similar
2 The origin of number 13 as being unlucky may originate from __________.
b the ancient Persians
c tall buildings
3 Many superstitions are related to a fear of __________.
4 In some places, __________ is considered bad luck.
a how you eat
b serving rice
c placing certain eating utensils incorrectly
5 Some superstitions are based upon __________.
a real situations
b travel restrictions
c the style of objects
6 In Hawaii, there is a practice of dumping bananas off a boat as it is __________.
a arriving at the shore
b sailing at sea
c leaving the shore
C. Take notes to answer the questions in your own words. Then compare answers with a partner.
1 Name three superstitions that are considered lucky.
2 What are three possible origins for the fear of the number 13?
3 Why is the number 4 considered unlucky in some places?
4 What is the reason for the Hawaiian superstition of dumping bananas off a boat?
2, 3, 4, 7, 10
1 b 2 b 3 b 4 c 5 a 6 c
1 a rabbit’s foot, crossing fingers, maneki-neko (cat statue), four-leaf clover
2 Loki the Norse God of Evil was the thirteenth guest at a banquet and caused a tragedy; Judas Iscariot was the thirteenth guest at Jesus’s last supper; ancient Persians believed the sky would collapse after the twelfth zodiac sign had ruled the world
3 In Asia the word for four sounds like the word for death.
4 Dumping bananas may protect ships from being infested by rats and spiders.
Narrator: Everybody has their own idea about what brings them luck. Some believe a rabbit’s foot can ward off evil. Others feel crossing their fingers improves their luck. Many agree that putting a maneki-neko in the window brings good luck. Some people say that finding a four-leaf clover is a good omen. Every culture has its own idea of what is lucky. But where do these ideas come from?
In many countries, it’s believed that the number 13 is very unlucky. Believe it or not, people are so spooked by it that many tall buildings often skip the thirteenth floor. But why? What’s so bad about the number 13? Historians explain that fear of the number 13 may come from a story in Norse mythology. It is claimed that Loki, the god of evil, was the thirteenth guest at a banquet of the gods when he caused a tragedy. Or it may come from the story of the Last Supper, where the Bible reports that Judas Iscariot, the man who betrayed Jesus, was the thirteenth guest. Or it may have come from ancient Persians, who believed that each of the 12 signs of the zodiac would rule the world for a period of one thousand years and that the sky would collapse in the thirteenth period.
Of course, 13 isn’t the only unlucky number in the world. In some countries in Asia, it is assumed that the number 4 is very unlucky because the word for four in Chinese sounds very much like the word for death. A lot of superstitions have to do with death – or rather with avoiding it. In Japan, it’s considered very unlucky to leave your chopsticks standing straight up in a bowl of rice because this is a traditional part of a Japanese funeral. Some superstitions have practical origins. If you’re on a boat in Hawaii, and your captain asks you to dump your bananas overboard as you’re leaving shore so as not to bring bad luck, don’t laugh. This superstition is assumed to have developed as a way to protect against the rats, spiders, and snakes that stow away in the bananas and that could infest the ship.
Perhaps you’re one of those people who finds all this talk of superstition dubious and far-fetched. You walk under ladders without fear. You break mirrors and don’t worry. You feel that you can live a life free from superstition. Well, all I can say is . . . good luck!
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