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Friday the 13th: Pffft!

8

May 13, 2011 by Renee

I had to write a blog post today. But we’re chilling out because it’s Friday, the 13th, a day many stay inside and avoid the world, or skulk around all day waiting for something awful to happen. I figure these folks don’t need to read about writing and publishing. They need a bit of fun.

Paraskevidekatriaphobics—that’s you weirdos who are superstitious about this day, might be happy to know that the maximum number of Friday the 13th’s we can have in a year is three. That is, as long as we continue to use the calendar we do. If someone were to change that…wouldn’t that be cool?

Anyway, the bad news is, it’s impossible not to have a Friday the 13th at all. We will always have at least one. Yes, I’m serious. National Geographic says so. Some really smart mathematician figured it all out.

In 2009 paraskevidektriaphobics, I LOVE THAT WORD, also called friggatriskaidekaphobia, (triskaidekaphobia is fear of the number 13) nearly had heart failure because there were three Friday the 13th’s and two fell in consecutive months. I mean, come on, how much stress can one paraskevidektriaphobic take? Well, don’t worry guys; we won’t have another year like that until 2015. Gives you something to look forward to, eh?

I love superstitious people; they make excellent characters in fiction. No, I’m not making fun of you all, just saying you tend to be a bit…crazy-ish in your superstitions. My best friend, Michelle, used to be hilarious. Why, we couldn’t even put a new pair of shoes on the table. Gasp! I don’t know why, but she nearly passed out in fright when I set some baby shoes I’d received on the table to do something. When she was pregnant, her due date passed and she realized she approached a Friday the 13th. I tell you, she went into labor using sheer willpower—on the 12th. She also hates broken mirrors, birds slamming into the window and things happening in threes. When things happen in fours, it completely messes her up.

So where does this Friday the 13th fear come from? Well, partly in the ancient bad-luck associations with the number 13 and the day Friday. I thought Friday was a good day, but apparently it’s very unlucky. Not good at all. Combine that with the evil number 13 (buildings are still constructed today without that floor number, but don’t we all realize that floor 14 is really 13 in disguise?) and we have a day worthy of trembling and pants wetting.

There are several tales in folklore and mythology that are believed to explain the badness of Friday the 13th. In the bible Judas, you know, that bastard who betrayed Jesus and caused a big old shitstorm, was the 13th guest at the Last Supper. Just think, if he never showed up, there might never have been a last supper. I jest people, please don’t hate me for having fun with the Bible. Besides, even the heathens among us are crazy that way. Apparently in ancient Rome, witches only gathered in groups of 12. If someone crashed their party, that 13th guest was believed to be the devil. That would have been an interesting evening.

Another theory, which is less insane-sounding is that because 12 is considered a complete number, 13 is given its badness because it comes after 12. It’s a victim of circumstance. Think about it, 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 apostles…the 13th of any of those is beyond complete. That makes some people nervous.

I know many who are so afraid of this day, they won’t make major decisions and go absolutely nowhere on that day. Come on folks; if bad luck is in the cards, it will just happen on the 14th when you reveal your hiding place. Or…it comes to you. Just saying.

Now, why is Friday bad? Well, it’s said to be the day Jesus was crucified. And according to my research, some believe that Eve tempted Adam with that damn apple on a Friday. Oh, and Cain killed his brother on Friday the 13th. Or that’s what I hear. This isn’t proven obviously, because there wasn’t some scribe hiding in the bushes recording the murder. It’s all hearsay.

Again, relax, I’m joking. These are all facts gathered by scholarly types who study these things. I’m just saying they’re not ‘concrete’ facts.

The fear is so strong that some hospitals and hotels don’t even have a room number 13. But you folks in Room 14 really know where you’re staying, right?

Okay some other reasons you whackjobs cite as proof that Friday the 13th is unlucky:

Apollo 13 launched at 13:13 CST on April 11, 1970. Turns out the sum of that date equals 13. (I checked). Google it to find out its fate if you don’t already know. The problems started on the 13th, not a Friday, but still…creepy.

Dan Marino wore Number 13 while with the Miami Dolphins. It’s said that is the reason that despite being a crackerjack quarterback, he only made it to the Super Bowl once where the team was thoroughly stomped. Shall I point out that there were other players on the team which may have contributed to its lack of Super Bowl awesomeness. You know that whole thing about a team’s success relying on more than a single person. There’s no I in team? But still, if he hadn’t worn number 14, maybe he’d have a ring. You might be right but it’s more likely you’re not.

Fidel Castro and Butch Cassidy were both born on a Friday the 13th. Depending on who you ask, these guys are evil and so their birthdate must be as well. But some people think these guys are pretty cool, so does that mean Friday the 13th is lucky for them? I don’t know.

Mark Twain claimed he found bad luck when he was the 13th guest at a dinner party. “They only had food for 12.” He later told a friend. Methinks Mr. Twain might have been having a bit of fun, but again, I don’t really know. He might not have even said that at all . You know how gossip is. Maybe he said something like “I’d say I was lucky. Got their late, missed dinner, but 12 of the guests died of food poisoning. Man, if I’d shown up an hour earlier…” but the friend he said it to might have thought that sounded rather cold. So instead he said to the guy next to him who wasn’t paying attention (you know those guys, “What was that? What’d he say?”) “They didn’t have enough food for Mark because he was the last guest.” And there you have it. But I’m rambling, so let’s go back to the original topic.

Bad things happen every day, but when they occur on Friday the 13th, we tend to remember them and just further the insanity. For example, if we’d decided that 2 was unlucky, then anything happening on that day or in that amount might be given as evidence of its unluckiness. Are you going to tell me nothing bad ever happens on the 2nd?

Now, for your amusement, or horror, depending on what you believe, here are some other bad luck inducing things you should avoid.

* Breaking a mirror brings 7 years bad luck – Let me point out that I am a klutz and I’ve broke numerous mirrors. So far, nothing horrible has happened. Yes, I said so far, I’m not ruling it utter nonsense entirely.

* Unless you’re born in October and the opal is your birthstone, it’s unlucky to wear it – Now you listen all you greedy October-born bastards, I’ll wear opals whenever I want to. This is a conspiracy to keep those beautiful stones all to yourselves.

* If three people are photographed together, the one in the middle will die first – Do I even need to comment? I make the kids move around in photos, so that we can confuse the gods of superstition. They don’t know who to pick first, …and also, it’s bullshit.

* Spilling salt is bad luck unless a pinch is thrown over the shoulder of the spiller. Apparently this signifies throwing it in the devil’s face. I’d say throwing anything into the face of the devil would be the bad luck action, but that’s just me. Apparently salt is evil’s kryptonite though…so, toss away if you want. Me? I gotta sweep that shit up once it’s tossed, so no thanks.

* Don’t kill a sparrow because our souls do not go to heaven. That’s all a myth. The damn sparrows get to carry them around. I know! The sparrows are so cute. Who’d have thought they carried dead people around? So…all you folks with sparrow guts in your headlights—beware.

* Never open an umbrella inside and definitely DO NOT put it over your head. Yeah, um, Kennedy’s screwed.

* Knock on wood when you mention something good so those evil spirits can’t come rain on your parade. Yeah, cause wood is also some kind of evil kryptonite.

* Yawning means danger is near. Yes because the yawner is tired and obviously should not be operating heavy machinery or making dinner. I know this. It’s not bad luck, just common sense. Oh and another I heard from someone is that you should cover your mouth when you yawn so your soul can’t escape. Apparently our souls are desperate to get the hell out of our bodies so they can fly around with the sparrows.

* If you see a bee in your house, you’re going to have a visitor. (in case you didn’t notice you already have one: the bee). But don’t kill the bee because you’ll have bad luck or the visitor will be unpleasant. That explains much at my house. And a swarm of bees on your roof, better call the fire department. Your house will burn down. Didn’t you know that bees are firebugs? Bunch of stinging pyromaniacs, those guys.

* If a bird gets in your house, it’s a sign of death – yeah, the death of a bird. But don’t kill a sparrow. Yikes, don’t want to release the souls. And if the bird flies into your window, he’s not retarded or blind, he’s the harbinger of death. Just so you know.

Personally, I think Friday the 13th gets too much bad press. I find it a very lucky day. But that’s because I don’t tend to be superstitious. If you think bad things will happen, they will. Kind of like if you think you can’t, you never will. Simple, really. So go on out, offer Friday the 13th a smile and a nod. I bet it rewards you.

Any crazy superstitions you believe or that you’ve heard? Don’t worry, we won’t make fun of you…much.

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8 thoughts on “Friday the 13th: Pffft!

  1. Jeanne says:

    Fascinating! Are people still as superstitious as they were a couple of generations ago?I was born on a Friday and frankly, I feel lucky to have been born and lucky to be here still.I was also born in October, so if any of your readers want to send me their opals, please tell them this will bring them good luck!

  2. Renee Miller says:

    My mother loves opals but won't wear them because of this silly superstition. I doubt superstition will ever die. It's too much fun.

  3. Vero says:

    Sweet… I always have a lot of fun on the account of people who are superstitios. I'm mean, I know, but one's never gonna help reduce the importance they give to these silly notions, unless one breaks all rules and survives to tell the story. Creepy.So I've always been the one to walk under ladders, open umbrellas in the house, place my shoes on the table and my purse on the floor, patch up broken mirrors with duct tape, play with stray black cats and other stuff like that. I'm cursed and doomed to die a terrible death on a Friday the 13th, right? Ah well… better make the most of my remaining time then. *wink, wink*

  4. Renee Miller says:

    You're not supposed to put your purse on the floor? Oops.

  5. Vero says:

    Yeah, in Romania the superstition says that placing your purse on the floor will make you poor. I guess they believe the money will just burst out of your wallet and purse and run away screaming "I'm free! I'm free!"

  6. Renee Miller says:

    Hmm, and I thought I was broke because I'm a writer. It's my purse's fault…and the floor it sits on.

  7. Mike Keyton says:

    Magpies. From a child I was taught to greet a magpie with a 'Good day Mr Magpie' otherwise dire consequences would ensue. I have since learnt to mutter it so nobody knows – being seen as a muttering loony is preferrable to being known as someone talking to magpies. It could be worse and less hygenic. The rural version is to spit out a gob of phlegm on seeing a Magpie…umm, more macho perhaps

  8. Renee Miller says:

    Did they ever tell you what would happen if you didn't greet the magpie properly? Those are the worst superstitions, the ones that are really vague. "Bad things will happen." No one ever wants to know what those are.I'm giggling picturing you and your muttering. Now everyone knows…

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Renee

Renee

I like to write stuff. Sometimes it's funny. I've published some novels and short fiction. I also battle an addiction to cake and potato chips, and I sometimes have inappropriate fantasies involving Kevin Spacey.

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