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Superstition Bash

Planning Time4 to 6 weeks
Group Size8+
Staff #6
Event DateFriday the 13th /

Activity Overview: 
Superstitions, old wives' tales, and other silly myths may seem quaint, but you'd be surprised how many people still believe in them! A superstition bash is a great way to promote critical thinking while having fun! There are two approaches to this. The first is to set up an awareness table on Friday the 13th, one which features activities as an incitement to come over. The second is to incorporate the superstition-bashing activities into a full-fledged party. Of course, they are not mutually exclusive, but involve different planning.

Planning Timeframe:
This event works especially well when held on a Friday the 13th - hundreds of millions of dollars are lost on this day to superstition. Additionally, Friday the 13th is the most common calendar date, occurring between one and three times in any year. Scope out your school calendar at the beginning of the year to see if one falls during the semester - if not, you can have it any old day, really. Halloween is another great time! To plan and promote this effectively, you probably want to plan at least four to six weeks in advance.

In order to pull this off, you need to coordinate activities and decor related to the theme, as well as some promotion to get attendees. It's probably best if these are handled separately, so you'll probably need three to four coordinators. Volunteers will be needed to set up a party, to run activities, to promote the event, and just generally to create interest.

Material requirements: 
A large part of what you'll need will depend on what activities you plan, which we'll get to in a moment. In general, you'll need a room to hold it in, with enough space for activities, dancing, perhaps refreshments, and music. In terms of decor, important elements can include umbrellas, (cardboard) black cats, (cheap) mirrors, ladders, horseshoes and four-leaf clovers. You can also get hats for your guests to wear.

As with all activities, you should have a clipboard, pens, and pre-printed sign-up sheets for people to join your group email list, along with whatever other tabling supplies you normally have.

Promotion is key to a successful event. Once you have decided on your activity, time, and location, look through the Group Promotion resource for ideas. We suggest promoting through your group email list, Facebook or other social media, and flyers. Also consider sending a press release to the student newspaper. 

Suggested Walkthrough:
In reality, this part would boil down to the same steps and ideas in the Awareness Tabling activity packet, so to reduce duplication we'll direct you there. Instead, this will go through some activities and ideas specifically for a superstition bash.

Superstition Obstacle Course:
There are a couple of ways you can organize this. You can have participants go through a bunch of different superstitions, or (better yet) you can have them tempt fate by trying to collect as much bad luck as possible. There are a number of possible activities, but here are a few favorites (see more at http://www.csicop.org/superstition/obstacles/):

  • Walking under a ladder
  • Breaking a mirror
    • This, of course, requires strict attention to safety. Be sure to wrap mirrors in layers of plastic, and there must be a bin to collect all shards. CSICOP notes, "We set the mirrors on long tables and included a small hammer and goggles on both sides. An attendant was stationed here to help participants and ensure their safety."
    • To find cheap mirrors, you can buy large ones at a hardware store and cut them into smaller squares. Ask members to bring in old, unwanted mirrors from home. Glass stores may offer broken mirrors for free or at a discount.
  • Walking under upside-down horseshoes
  • Have participants walk a path that forces them in front of a cardboard black cat
    • Many holiday stores have black cats for cheap after Halloween
  • Stepping on cracks
  • Spilling milk
    • For best safety and cleanup, pour small cups of milk to spill, and have participants throw them on towel
  • A miniature bowling game on a table, with salt shakers for pins
    • For extra bad luck, have participants throw salt over the right (wrong) shoulder
  • Opening umbrellas indoors


Other Activities:

  • A MissFortune Teller with a crystal ball
  • Ladder limbo
  • Pin-the-tail on the Astrologer or Psychic
  • Costume contest!
    • Have attendees create a costume illustrating a myth or superstition, and vote on winners
  • Umbrella dance - attendees dance under open umbrellas
  • Homeopathic Juice Bar, or a Homeopathic Beer Chugging Contest
    • For each, dilute a tiny amount of raspberry juice/beer in gallons of seltzer water. If homeopathy works, it should taste (and intoxicate) just like the real thing!
    • Check with your student activities department to see if this is OK, root beer can be a substitution!
  • Dunk a Witch
    • Have attendees pay to "test" a witch/warlock in a water tank. You can also reenact the witch-testing skit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Note: Many more suggestions are available at www.csicop.org/superstition/. You can also talk to Margaret Downey, the Friggatriskaidekaphobia Treatment Nurse (www.friggatriskaidekaphobia.com/index.html), who puts on superstition bash parties for very reasonable rates.

One of the best resources to find out what works and what doesn't is you - our student leaders! If you've employed a strategy that worked well, let us know about it so other groups can also use that idea. If you've learned a lesson of caution about something we suggest, point out the pitfalls! Email us at organizer@secularstudents.org with your stories and experiences!

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