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Is This Your Unlucky Day?

Find out how Friday the 13th got its reputation — and the stories behind other popular superstitions

black cat

Nice kitty? Not! — Photo by Annette Fournet/Corbis

A black cat is a bad omen

In the Middle Ages, people believed that a black cat was a witch — or at least a witch's messenger. Hence, many thought any encounter with the creature was a bad sign. Some people say the bad luck comes only if the black cat walks toward you; it's a good omen if he walks away. Regardless of the legend's veracity, animal shelters report that black cats are less likely to be adopted than orange ones.

Next: Throw salt over your left shoulder for good luck. »

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