I never know it’s Friday The Thirteenth until I’m reminded of it by somebody or something, like my desk calendar. Then I panic waiting for the worst to happen. I’m not really superstitious by nature, but there are some that I follow religiously. Like I make sure all the Christmas decorations are put away by midnight, December 31st. I have my reasons. I don’t let anyone do laundry on New Year’s Day. I panic if a bird flies into the house. It’s a bit freaky anyway. If a black cat walks across the road in front of me I look for any white paw, or tail or anything. I try to avoid walking under a ladder, bad things have happened. And when I was little I tried not to step on the crack in a sidewalk so I wouldn’t break my mother’s back. There was a lot of debate as to whether the joint lines in a sidewalk were actually cracks. Anyway, although my mother had her share of bad luck I guess, she never broke her back.
So why is Friday the 13th associated with bad luck or worse? I figured I would try and find out.
Turns out this stuff can be traced back to the Garden of Eden! It is said that Eve offered the apple to Adam on a Friday. So this Friday superstition has been around for a while. The co-mingling of Friday being an unlucky day because of this and other historical events, and the number 13 being associated with any number of demonic connotations just makes it worse. For example, Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all have 13 letters in their names. In case you aren’t familiar with those names, they’re all serial killers.
There were exactly 13 present at the Last Supper. One dinner guest later betrayed Jesus and he ended up being crucified, on a Friday by the way. First appearing in the 18th century, the seating of thirteen at a dinner table would result in the death of one diner. Usually the one who leaves the table first, unless everyone stands at the same time. Better keep that one in mind.
By the 19th century we weren’t building thirteenth floors on buildings, no 13th Street, 13th Avenues or Boulevards, no hotel rooms with a 13 on the door. But the belief that Murphy’s Law reigns supreme on Friday the 13th, seems to be a 20th Century phenom. If it can go wrong, it will go wrong, on Friday the 13th. So that’s why I panic.
Paraskevidekatriaphobics, people afflicted with a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th, number about 8% of the U.S. population. That’s a number in the range of 21 million people. That’s a lot of people. And they have made the superstition “fit” almost every situation. Some will not even venture out of the house on Friday the 13th, won’t go to work, won’t have medical procedures done, and the list goes on.
Well not to worry, there is only one Friday The Thirteenth in 2011, and if we make it through the day, we’ll be good. Watch for those cracks in the sidewalk.