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Yes, that’s today. Should we all stay inside?

To me it’s has always been my lucky day. Well I have always been a bit of a rebel in these ‘rules’, and above that, I didn’t really have a choice. My house number used to be 13, and my phone number ****13.00. What was there to be done about that? And of course, I have always loved Fridays, as it is the last day of the (school and working) week.

Why are millions of people obsessed with this Friday the 13th thing? I wondered, so I did some research.

There has been a research about whether it is true that this day brings bad luck or not. And in general, it seems that on a Friday the 13th –for example due to car accidents- more people end up in hospital then on an ordinary Friday. This probably does not prove a thing. I am quite convinced that a lot of “paraskevidekatriaphobics” (yes this fear of Friday 13th has this impossible name) are so stressed and focused on this dangerous day that they actually have/cause accidents…

But isn’t it striking, how this Friday the 13th day is avoided for doing all kinds of ‘important’ things. Who gets married on a Friday 13? There are even people that don’t go out to restaurants, don’t go to work, don’t drive a car and, stay inside!

Well to start with, the number 13 has always been a bad number. You never sit with 13 around a dinner table (or someone will die within a year). Many hotels don’t have a room ‘13’ or not even a 13th floor. Many cities don’t have a 13th street or avenue…. It is unknown when exactly this superstition started. When exactly human beings started to associate the number 13 with misfortune.

Some say that primitive man could only count to 12. He had 10 fingers and 2 feet. What lay beyond that (13) was an impenetrable mystery and thus an object of superstition. But didn’t these primitive men have 10 toes as well?? So let’s just forget this theory…

Others say that the number of 13 has been vilified by the patriarchal religions in the early days of western religion. Thirteen was identified with femininity : there are 13 (x28) lunar (menstrual) cycles a year. The solar calendar triumphed over the lunar with the rise of the male dominated civilization, and so did the perfect number 12 over the imperfect number 13.

Another possibility is that this 13-phobia comes from the Vikings. The legend goes like this: Twelve gods were invited to a banquet at Valhalla. Loki, the Evil One, god of mischief, had been left off the guest list but crashed the party, bringing the total number of attendees to 13. True to character, Loki raised hell by inciting Hod, the blind god of winter, to attack Balder the Good, who was a favourite of the gods. Hod took a spear of mistletoe offered by Loki and obediently hurled it at Balder, killing him instantly. All Valhalla grieved. And although one might take the moral of this story to be “Beware of uninvited guests bearing mistletoe,” the Norse themselves apparently concluded that 13 people at a dinner party is just plain bad luck.

And then we all know that there were exactly 13 present at the Last Supper. One of the 12 disciples betrayed Jesus Christ, setting the stage for the Crucifixion.

And what about Friday?

Did you know that you are not supposed to change your bed on a Friday, that ships should not sail, that you should not cut your nails on a Friday? Now what’s wrong with Friday?

Some say Friday’s bad reputation goes back to the Garden of Eden. It was on a Friday, supposedly, that Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit. Adam bit and they were both ejected from Paradise. Tradition also holds that the Great Flood began on a Friday; God silenced the builders of the Tower of Babel on a Friday; the Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday. And did you know that Christ was crucified on a Friday? It is therefore a day of penance for Christians.

In pagan Rome, Friday was execution day, but in other pre-Christian cultures it was the Sabbath, a day of worship, so those who indulged in secular or self-interested activities on that day could not expect to receive blessings from the gods — which may explain the lingering taboo on embarking on journeys or starting important projects on Fridays. To complicate matters, these pagan associations were not lost on the early Church, which went to great lengths to suppress them. If Friday was a holy day for heathens, the Church fathers felt, it must not be so for Christians.

So we know that Friday brings bad luck, and so does the number 13. But how about the combination of the two? How, why and when did these separate strands of folklore converge to mark Friday the 13th as the unluckiest day of all?

There’s a very simple reason for that: nobody really knows, and few concrete explanations have been proposed. It is probably just that extra spoon of misfortune that might be accounted for in terms of a simple accumulation, as it were, of bad omens. So unlucky Friday plus unlucky 13 equals very unlucky Friday 13. Then it is probably best that on Friday the 13th, one does not break a mirror, does not walk under a ladder, and does not cross the path of a black cat. Maybe it is best that you just stay at home, lock your doors and shutters, and cross your fingers… but know that this is the only Friday 13th of 2011. Tonight at 12 pm, you can set your mind at rest.

(source : David Emery)