Side View’s challenge, “Friday 13th,” reminded me that I did a post on this subject, back in 2010, so I looked it up and gave it a bit of a tweak and some editing.
I’ve never been a superstitious person, but I remember when I was growing up as a child in a small mining community in England, there was much superstition around. People would throw salt over their left shoulder to ward off evil spirits, especially if you had broken a mirror, which was thought to bring 7 years’ bad luck. One NEVER walked under a ladder, even if it meant stepping off the pavement into the road to avoid doing so. I could never understand why one would risk being run over by a bus, rather than take a chance with the bad luck thing. “Touch wood” was a common saying, after expressing a wish that something bad wouldn’t happen, and if you saw a funeral car or procession, you had to inexplicably touch your collar. I remember putting up my umbrella before stepping out of someone’s front door into the rain, and you’d have thought I’d committed a murder. The fuss and fury that ensued was ridiculous.
Friday 13th has been viewed with dread by many superstitious people over the centuries. The number 13 of course has always been synonymous with ‘bad luck’ and many highrise buildings don’t have a 13th floor. Most airports skip the 13th gate, and airplanes don’t have a seat number 13. Hospitals and hotels regularly don’t have a room 13, and Italians omit the number 13 from their national lottery for fear of bad luck. People who fear the number 13 are known as, ‘triskaidekaphobes.’ Some may argue that their fear is well founded ; there was the ill-fated mission to the moon, ‘Apollo 13’ and it’s believed by some that if you have 13 letters in your name, you will have ‘the devil’s luck.’ Examples given of this, are Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy, and Jack the Ripper. South Africa’s Julius Malema, just misses this by one letter, and I think that his “devil’s luck” may have almost run out.
Even Friday itself has its bad luck connotations. For example; a bed changed on a Friday will bring bad dreams; any ship sailing on a Friday will have bad luck; never start a trip on a Friday, or you will meet with misfortune; never start to make a garment on a Friday, unless you can finish it the same day, or the wearer will be prone to accidents.
So, as Friday 13th combines these two unlucky entities, it’s no wonder that some folk stay in bed the whole day, afraid to venture out. Did you know that ‘friggatriskaidekaphobia’ is the name given to people who are afflicted with the morbid, irrational fear of Friday 13th? Quite a mouthful isn’t it, so don’t try to say it, or you could choke, or even lose your false teeth, and that would definitely be bad luck. It’s thought that as many as 21 million Americans are in the grip of this age old superstition.
As we mark today the second Friday the 13th of 2012, here are some interesting facts about this superstitiously unlucky day:
Friday the 13th is set to creep up upon us yet again in July this year. The most times that the 13th will fall on a Friday in any given calendar year is three, while the longest period without it is 14 months.
On April 13, 2029, a Friday, the asteroid 99942 will make its closest encounter with earth.
US President Franklin Roosevelt would not travel on the 13th day of any month and would not host 13 guests at a meal. Napoleon and US President Herbert Hoover were also said to suffer from triskaidekaphobia.
In Paris, one can hire a quatorzieme, or a professional 14th guest, to remove the so-called bad luck brought by the number 13, especially on Friday 13th.
Friday the 13th may not be as unlucky as people think. A 2008 Dutch study showed that fewer car accidents, fires and crimes occur on the said day, probably because superstitious would-be victims make an effort to stay at home out of harm’s way.
According to CNBC, the US market has been up 80 times out of the past 140 occasions when the 13th of a month landed on a Friday.
Well, I showed my disdain for this silly superstition, by changing the sheets and pillow cases on our bed this morning. The only bad luck that’s likely to come my way, is that I have to iron them.
Have a great Friday 13th everyone. Chat again soon.