Hishida Shunso | Black Cat, 1910 | Eisei Bunko Foundation, Tokyo, Japan | Huntington Archive of Asian Art

Everyone knows that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day, right? According to Wikipedia, there is no record of this superstition existing before the late 19th century, and different cultures ascribe the unfortunate day to Tuesday the 13th or Friday the 17th. Meanwhile, many superstitions popular in the Middle Ages did not make it to our era. Visit the Illustrated Bartsch collection of Old Master European prints in the Digital Library and search within it for superstition to find some surprising beliefs, such as “Digging for Coal Upon Seeing a Swallow Guarantees Freedom from Fever and Headaches for a Year,” and “Man Encountering a Goose, a Good Omen for the Day.”

If you know of any other unusual superstitions (or have any of your own), feel free to share in the comments!

More spooky posts in the Artstor Blog: