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Superstitions - Part 1

1 Look through the NOTES and watch the Episode “Superstitions- Part 1”. (Мультимедийный каталог 1556→Unit 9)

The Last Supper - the meal eaten by Christ with his disciples on the night before his Crucifixion;

Absenteeism – the high rate of absence where regular attendance is expected

Incantation – the speaking or singing of certain words for the purpose of raising spirits or performing magical actions.

Mojo’ - magical power with its magical spell, acts, or charm. Widely believed in among sportsmen.

Thespian – (of or pertaining to Thespis, a Greek tragic poet and the traditional founder of Greek tragedy) a tragedian, an actor or actress.

a coven - a group or meeting of witches

Pandora - the first woman, made out of earth by the gods. Given a box (Pandora’s box) that she was forbidden to open, she disobeyed out of curiosity and released from it all the ills;

2 Check you know the meanings of the words and phrases given in the box, make use of them when covering the information provided in the episode:

  1. An ancient and a modern man have a lot of superstitions in common.

to fend off far from to squelch smth trouble spots

a rational creature to exhibit a behavior federal case

Humans have always tried to fend off fear and dread with the belief that small personal rituals would protect them. Far from being an ancient practice, superstition is very much alive today. Superstitions have been around since the first man appeared on the Earth, and they will continue to exist, even though people will try to squelch them and do away with them, saying that they’re bad and even evil. They provide a very important function in getting people through life, through the trouble spots. 21st-century man would appear to be a rational creature who believes in the sciences. But in spite of our technical advances, most of us exhibit some form of superstitious behavior. Stephen King, renowned author, even said that he doesn’t like the number 13, daring his audience to make a federal case of it.

  1. Unlucky numbers.

to trace to to stand from optimal size to total 13

to heighten the anxiety to be associated with a conjunction of

to consider smth troublesome estimates reduced commerce

absenteeism related to a homonym

Our cultural fear of the number 13 can be traced to several different explanations. Christians believe that the superstition stands from the Last Supper, where Judas Iscariot became the 13th guest to sit at the table. In the Dark Ages the number was adopted by witches, dictating the optimal size for their covens, which always totaled 13. Combining the number 13 with a Friday heightens the anxiety. The bad luck associated with Friday the 13th exists for several different reasons. When you have Friday the 13th, you have a conjunction of two pieces of bad luck superstition falling at the same time at a synchronicity: 13 is an unlucky number in our culture, and if you start something on a Friday, you will never finish it (Rhyme in English folklore: “On Friday begun will never be done”). It isn’t only Friday the 13th that is considered unlucky, any calendar day marked 13 is considered troublesome. Estimates suggest that days numbered 13 cost economies throughout the Western world billions of dollars a year through plane and train reservation cancellation, absenteeism and reduced commerce. Superstitions seem related to anxiety. Superstitions change from culture to culture, and numbers have a particular significance. For example, in Japan, China, Korea, there may easily be a 13th flour, but they may not have a 4th floor, because 4 is an unlucky number in those cultures, it’s a homonym for ’death’. Nobody wants to be on the ‘death’ floor.

  1. Superstitions in the theatre.

fair share of Pandora’s Box a public event the Scottish play

to bring bad luck on to reverse the bad luck

the standard cure to date back to creepy things

an evil spell to do an incantation to be fascinated by

to conjure up a spell-binding image

Certain professions have more than their fair share of superstitions. The theatre is a veritable Pandora’s Box of irrational beliefs. “Acting is an anxious profession where things can go wrong, and it’s going to be a very public event if it goes wrong. Actors are traditionally superstitious.” Since it was first performed 400 years ago, no play has given birth to more superstitions than Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth. “Definitely, you should never say the name of the play in a theatre, call it the Scottish play instead of naming it. You don’t say ay lines from the play while you’re in a theatre, and you don’t say the names of the two lead characters, because this will bring just horrible bad luck on the production, and on the person who says it.” As with some other superstitions, it’s possible to reverse the bad luck. If you do mention the play, or the title, or quote a line from the play even outside of the rehearsal process, the standard cure is to send that actor outside, have them spin around three times, spit over their shoulder and ask permission to come back into the theatre.” The first known problems with the play apparently date back to the opening night, when the boy who was supposed to play Lady Macbeth died backstage before the performance, so Shakespeare had to play Lady Macbeth on it opening night. We don’t know whether or not that’s true, but things keep happening around the play that are very creepy. The three witches introduce the play’s main character with an evil spell, and they are actually doing an incantation trying to figure out the next time they are going to meet. “James I was the King of England at the time the play was written in 1606, and he was fascinated by witches, he fully believed in them, and even wrote a book on them called Demonology.” Revealing Macbeth’s cursed fate, filling him with anxiety and fear, the witches conjure up a spell-binding image of the Scottish king being controlled by evil.

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