Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday the Thirteenth

Friday the Thirteenth 
The Number Thirteen
     The fear of the number 13 is called triskaidekaphobia taken from the Greek words tris, for the number '3', kai meaning 'and', deka for the number '10' and phobos which means 'fear'.
     The number 13 has been much maligned over the centuries and maybe with good reason. In the Christian religion there were 13 guests at the Last Supper. Some believe that Judas was the thirteenth one to sit down, although it is not mentioned in the Bible. He betrayed Jesus and later took his own life. This led to the belief that if there are thirteen people at a table, one of them will die within a year.
     There used to be 13 steps up to the gallows.
     At one time a coven had 13 witches.
     In Tarot, the number 13 card is the death card.
Some superstitions around the number 13:
     In Ireland the first two digits on vehicle licence plates represents the year of registration such as 10 for 2010. In 2012, the Society of the Irish Motor Industry thought that for many people the prospect of having '13' on their licence plates might discourage them from buying new cars. The government introduced a system where vehicles bought in 2013 would have '131' on their plates instead of '13'.
     Very few buildings have 13th floor, the elevator going from twelve to fourteen. Strange, because we all know thirteen comes after twelve no matter what name you give it. Is there a thirteenth floor that the elevator passes?
     Most hotels don't have a room 13.
     If you book a table for thirteen people at the Savoy Hotel in London, England, it will be set for fourteen and a sculpture of a black cat called Kasper will occupy the fourteenth chair.
     Superstitious diners in Paris can hire a professional 14th guest.
     In Formula 1 car racing, there is no car with the number 13.
     It is believed that if you have 13 letters in your name you would have Devil's luck. Charles Manson and Theodore (Ted) Bundy are just a few.

Here are some examples in history where the number 13 has led to misadventures.
     Phillip II was king of Macedonia from 359BC to 336BC. He led many wars and eventually ruled over much of Greece. During a procession through a Greek town, Philip II placed his statue beside those of twelve Greek gods making his the thirteenth statue. In 336 he was the leader of the invading army against the Persian Empire. In October of that year his daughter was getting married in the Macedonian capital of Aegae. He was entering the town's theater when he was assassinated by his body guard.
     In Canada, the Seven Years War took place between Britain and France from 1756 and 1763. On September 12, 1759, British troops climbed a steep footpath from the St Lawrence River up to the unfortified Plains of Abraham, named after its original owner, Abraham Martin, who was a ship’s pilot in 1645. The plains were west of Quebec City and the path was guarded by three French militiamen.
     “Who goes there?” one asked.
     “We are a group of French relief soldiers,” an Englishmen answered in French.
     “Pass on by,” the militiaman said.
     And they stood back to let the British troops walk in pairs past them. By morning of September 13th four thousand British troops and their field artillery were assembled on the plains waiting for the French. The French mustered a combination of four thousand regular French militiamen and civilians and faced the British troops. The British had the advantage because their troops were all trained.
     The battle lasted about thirty minutes with the British winning.
     Apollo 13, which was launched from NASA on April 11, 1970 at 13:13 Central time, was halfway to the moon when an explosion disrupted some of its instruments on April 13. It did manage to make it back to earth.
     The Space Shuttle Columbia exploded on the 113th flight of the Space shuttle.
     Princess Diana's accident occurred at the 13th pillar of the Pont de l'Alma tunnel.

     In pagan Rome Fridays were execution days. This was later called Hangman's Day in Britain because that was the day that public hangings took place.
     In some marine circles many sailors did not want to set sail on a Friday.
     In Biblical times the Great Flood, the destruction of the Temple of Solomon, and God tongue-tying the builders of the Tower of Babel supposedly happened on a Friday.

 Friday the Thirteenth
     The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia from the Greek word for Friday, or friggatriskaidkaphobia named after the Norse goddess, Frigg, from whom the English got the name Friday.
     Friday the 13th is the most widespread superstition in western countries. About eight percent of the people believe that Friday 13th is unlucky. Again this could goes back to the Bible where Eve ate the apple from the serpent on Friday 13th and Jesus died on the cross on Friday 13th.
     On Friday Oct 13th, 1307, Philip IV of France ordered the arrests and assassinations of the Knights Templar.
     In modern times Friday the 13th is called 'Black Friday'. One of the earliest examples of the name was used to refer to the collapse of the United States gold market on Friday, Sept 24, 1869.

 Some Friday the 13th superstitions are:
     Seeing a black cat on Friday 13th is a bad omen.
     If you leave your house by one door you should make sure you enter by that same door to avoid misfortune.
     Some people won't go to work on that day and others will not dine out.
     Many refuse to purchase a house, fly, or even act on a hot stock tip.
     A study in Britain showed that while many people stayed home on Friday 13th, of those who did go out, more people were hospitalized from accidents on that day than on the previous Friday.

      In the 1800s, in order to dispel the fears of superstitious sailors who would not sail on a Friday 13th, the British Navy commissioned a ship which was baptized the H.M.S. Friday. The crew members were picked on a Friday and it was launched on Friday 13th. Unfortunately, it was never seen or heard from again. Some call this a myth while others say that the navy wiped out all record of the voyage.

 The Flip Side:
     In some cultures Friday is considered a lucky day for sowing seeds and planting potatoes.
     The Jewish Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday.
     In the United States the Friday after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year. It has been given the term Black Friday because that is when retailers begin to see a profit.
     Most workers like Friday because it is the last work day of the week and signals the beginning of the weekend.
     Thirteen is a prime number, which means it cannot be divided by any number other than itself. Hence, it symbolizes qualities of incorruptible nature and purity.
     In ancient Greece, Zeus was considered  the thirteenth and most powerful god. He was associated with totality, completion, and attainment.
     In Hindu mythology, Maha Shivratri was celebrated on the thirteenth night of the Magha month, which is a very sacred and holy night for all Shiva followers.
     The Thai New Year (Songkran Day)  begins on April 13th. It is a time to wash away all the bad omens by splashing water on friends and relatives.
     This one can be taken either way: our children become teenagers on their 13th birthday.
     My name, Joan Donaldson, has 13 letters in it but, unlike Theodore Bundy, I haven't killed anyone except in my mystery novels.

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