In honor of the occasion, here are a few fun historical facts about the superstitions of the Romans. Grab your lucky rabbit's foot and enjoy!
Beware the Ides of March.
And the ides of just about any other month. The ancient Romans were a superstitious lot, with more bad days than you could shake a rabbit’s foot at. Augers constantly read the signs and sent emperors running for safety by interpreting everything from thunderstorms to bull entrails. However, the Romans also knew how to party and they loved a good holiday. They enjoyed them so much, they were constantly declaring new ones to celebrate a military victory or appease angry foreign gods. In any given year, there were more holidays than workdays and with so many days off, it’s a wonder there were enough people around to keep the empire running.
Emperor Augustus was said to be one of the most superstitious of all Roman leaders. He barely got up in the morning without having his auger check to see which way the birds were flying or if lightning planned to strike. I don’t blame him for being cautious. Julius Caesar had lots of warning from oracles before he headed off to the senate on that fateful March day, but did he listen? No, and look how things turned out for him.
Many ancient Roman superstitious customs are still with us today. Blessing someone after they sneeze is a holdover from ancient Rome. So is the belief that a black cat crossing your path will bring bad luck. Wearing a veil was a must for ancient Roman brides since it was thought to protect her from evil spirits. June, named after the goddess of marriage Juno, is still considered one of the luckiest times to wed. Thankfully, the Roman custom of checking pig entrails to decide the best day to hold the wedding has fallen out of favor.
So, do you part to avoid bad luck. Party a little to appease a few deities, check your horoscope, step over the threshold with your left foot, and if you accidentally stumble on the way out the door, call in sick. You don’t want to risk having a Julius Caesar kind of day.