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Lesson Transcript

Becky: Hello and welcome to Culture Class: Italian Superstitions and Beliefs, Lesson 3 - Friday the 17th and the Number 13. I'm Becky and I'm joined by Daniele.
Daniele: Ciao! Hi, I'm Daniele.
Becky: In this lesson, we’ll talk about two common superstitions in Italy. The first superstition is about bad luck. What’s the superstition called in Italian?
Daniele: venerdì 17
Becky: Which literally means "Friday the 17th." Daniele, can you repeat the Italian phrase again?
Daniele: [slow] venerdì 17 [normal] venerdì 17
Becky: In Italy, it's believed that Friday the 17th is an extremely unlucky day. In the US, we believe that Friday the 13th is unlucky, but the 17th is safe.
Daniele: Right, this is a very Italian superstition. I think it's because Friday is believed to be the day Jesus died on the cross.
Becky: And what about number 17?
Daniele: It seems that in ancient Rome, 17 was written with the letters XVII. These are the same letters that were usually carved on tombstones, meaning "I lived."
Becky: What does that sound like in ancient Rome’s language?
Daniele: In Latin “I lived” is VIXI.
Becky: which is spelled V-I-X-I. So that’s why 17 in Italy is connected with death and consequently, bad luck.
Daniele: That’s right.
Becky: The second superstition is about good luck. What is the superstition called in Italian?
Daniele: numero 13
Becky: Which literally means "number 13." Let’s hear it in Italian again.
Daniele: [slow] numero 13 [normal] numero 13
Becky: So unlike other countries, in Italy, 13 is considered to be a lucky number, especially when gambling.
Daniele: I would say that it’s only lucky while gambling. For example, 13 people sitting at the dinner table is considered bad luck.
Becky: That might be because there were 13 people at the table during the Last Supper, when Jesus was betrayed.
Daniele: Right. That’s one of the reasons why in several situations, 13 is considered unlucky.
Becky: But I’ll keep in mind that 13 is a lucky number when it comes to gambling in Italy!
Daniele: I wish you good luck!


Becky: There you have it - two Italian superstitions! Are they similar to any of your country’s superstitions? Let us know in the comments!
Daniele: A presto!