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Archive for August 13th, 2010

In my time zone … GMT+4 … it’s Friday the 13th, and seeing how crap the rest of the week … month … year … has gone, I’ll be watching my back thankyouverymuch.

In prep for doing so, I gathered some info on history not my own concerning the reasons behind this particular combo of day and date having ominous overtones.

Friggatriskaidekaphobia is the bon mot coined to describe the fear of Friday the 13th, and if that’s not reason enough to stay in bed the whole day, head under the covers, and a refusal to speak to anyone for fear of having to admit to having the condition … well … I could think of a couple of others, but don’t need to.

Thankfully, planning ahead is possible — a stock of tea on hand, a couple of good books, that sort of thing — since every year has at least one … but no more than three … Paraskevi the dekatreis, and any month that begins on a Sunday is warning that the 13th on a Friday will happen.

Funnily enough, while most people now welcome Fridays with open arms and high hopes for a hoot and a half, historically, the whole TGIF thing wasn’t happening until recently:

The actual origin of the superstition, though, appears also to be a tale in Norse mythology. Friday is named for Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility. When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil — a gathering of thirteen — and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week. For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was known as “Witches’ Sabbath.

Unlike moderns eagerly packing up cars and heading outta Dodge in a Dodge, as far back as the 14th century Fridays were considered an unlucky day to begin a journey, as Chauser suggests as he sees his folks off to Canterbury.

So, Friday was a downer, and the idea that 13 is an unlucky number has a few traceable roots:

In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve signs of the zodiac, twelve hours of the clock, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, twelve gods of Olympus, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.

Numerology, astrology, mythology, Christianity … hang a hat already.

When some bad shit happened on Fridays that fell on 13ths, folks started putting two and two together and came up with a baker’s dozen called spooky.

The Knights Templar weren’t happy about the day after King Philip had a slew of them arrested on Friday the 13th, 1307, the Battle of Hastings startedon the Friday the 13th of 1066 and ended badly for King Harold, Wall Street crashed Friday the 13th of 1929. Hurricane Charley made landfall in south Florida on Friday, August 13, 2004. The “Friday the 13th Storm” struck Buffalo, New York on Friday, October 13, 2006. The Andes Plane Crash of 1972 occurred on Friday, October 13, 1972.(For the same sorts of reasons, the Spanish-speaking world has Tuesday the 13th marked as a bad day in the making.)

And how does all this impact today? Well …

According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed. “It’s been estimated that $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day”.

So my idea of resting recumbent lo lili has me thinking I should have lots of company … so to speak.

But does the day actually attract shit? Hm. Debatable. The wiki:

There are conflicting studies about the risk of accidents on Friday the 13th. The Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics (CVS) on June 12, 2008, stated that “fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday than on other Fridays, because people are preventatively more careful or just stay home. Statistically speaking, driving is slightly safer on Friday the 13th, at least in the Netherlands; in the last two years, Dutch insurers received reports of an average 7,800 traffic accidents each Friday; but the average figure when the 13th fell on a Friday was just 7,500. However, a 1993 study in the British Medical Journal that compared the ratio of traffic accidents between Friday the 6th and Friday the 13th stated that there is a significant increase in traffic-related accidents on Friday the 13th. There are indications that there are more accidents on Fridays than average weekdays (irrespective of the date) probably because of alcohol consumption. Therefore it is less relevant for this purpose to compare Friday the 13th with, say, Tuesday the 13th.

Driving in Holland is okay, but stay well off the roads in the UK? Okay … and I’ll add, avoid the M25 on any day!

There is, after all, no sense in tempting fate, unless such things get your rocks off. That didn’t work out so well for stuntman Sam Patch who picked the day back in 1829 to make his biggest jump … even bigger than his history-setting plunge over Niagara Falls … and died in the process. (Have to add his personal slogan here, since it cracks me up: Some things can be done as well as others.)

I leave it up to readers to decide what to do with their day … once it rolls around to longitudes more westerly … and take some comfort in the idea that I, for one, can avoid the friggatriskaidekaphobia outbreak warming up already in anticipation of Friday the 13th of April speeding toward us for contact in 2029 … or 2036 … or whatever … when 99942 Apophis puts an end to such silliness.

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