In case you haven’t noticed, today is Friday the Thirteenth!
Not superstitious? Think all that bad-luck nonsense is a load of hogwash? Well, before you do anything momentous with your day, like launch a new book, read on……..!
I’ve had a look at what my friends in Wikipedia have had to say about the significance of today. They quote the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, which reckons an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day making it the most feared day and date in history.
“Some people,” says the Institute, “are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines.”
The Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics (CVS) reported some time ago 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.”
So where does all the myth and fear come from?
Here comes Wikipedia again! “One theory states that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that thirteen is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day.”
One article draws attention to the importance of numerology in trying to understand the notion of thirteen being unlucky. The number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve hours of the clock, twelve gods of Olympus, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, the twelve successors of Muhammad in Shia Islam, 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, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners!
To finish the pretend-I-know-all-about-it research section of this tale, did you know there is a word for the fear of Friday the thirteenth? Actually, there are two, depending which reference books you look up……..
So, if anyone is showing any high levels of stress or anxiety today, you can tell them what they’re suffering from!
One modern myth that I found recorded in a number of places, including the www.writing.com website, was a carefully constructed observation that people with 13 letters in their name will have the devil’s luck. How about these…..?
Jack the Ripper
Albert De Salvo.
I can see you all out there counting off the letters in your name!
But my blog wouldn’t be complete unless it referred to writers – and it just so happens that an author is credited with the modern fixation of Friday the 13th!!!
In 1907, eccentric Boston stockbroker Thomas Lawson published a book called Friday the Thirteenth, which told of an evil businessman’s attempt to crash the stock market on the unluckiest day of the month. Thanks to an extensive ad campaign the book sold nearly 28,000 copies within the first week and was later turned into a feature-length silent film. The rest, as they say, is history.
Then came Jason! In 1980, Paramount Pictures released Friday the 13th (tagline: “Fridays will never be the same again”), a slasher flick about a series of murders at a summer camp. Apparently Jason, born on Friday the 13th, chooses that date to take revenge on campers much like the ones who allowed him to drown as a boy.
The original film was written by Victor Millar and spawned a lucrative series of nine films which grossed $465 million.
To underline my research (actually I got the following from the Daily Mirror) here are a few other tidbits:
- Every year has at least one and at most three Friday the thirteenths.
- The longest period that can occur without a Friday the 13th is fourteen months.
- Famous people born on Friday the 13th include Samuel Beckett (13 April 1906), Margaret Thatcher (13 October 1923), Fidel Castro (13 August 1926) and Steve Buscemi (13 December 1957)
As you go about the rest of your day you might want to avoid the following:
- Don’t pass a funeral procession
- Don’t give birth
- Don’t change the bedsheets
- Don’t cut your hair
- Don’t cut your nails
- Don’t start a new job or open a business
- Don’t begin a trip
- Don’t consult a fortune teller
……And, whatever you do, for goodness sake stay away from men in hockey masks!!