Friday, November 13, 2009

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

Yeah—the whole “mind over matter” thing: Friday the 13th is only unlucky if you buy into the superstition. Well, apparently a lot of folks buy into it—including me. Hell, there’s a whole franchise of movies based on this phenomenon. [they made 12 of those things!? Sheesh]

I seriously had to force myself to leave my apartment today… [the craptacular weather didn’t help matters]. But, as I slogged along to work, I started wondering where this whole thing started [once a dramaturg, always a dramaturg]. I found some really cool stuff:

One theory suggests 12 is the most complete number. It occurs in common cultural references - 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the Zodiac, the 12 labors of Hercules, the 12 tribes of Israel, 12 gods of Olympus and the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ. Therefore, 13 is considered irregular, and thus unlucky. [Odd factoid: in the 13th century, the Knights Templar were arrested by King Philip in France on Friday the 13th.]

Another belief comes from Norse mythology, in which Frigga, the goddess of love, was banished to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. Every Friday, Frigga would call 11 other witches to the top of the mountain to plot evils for those below. The 12 witches would gather with a 13th guest—the devil. Similarly, in Roman times, witches are said to have gathered in groups of 12, with the 13th member being the devil.

Another part of Norse mythology states 12 gods were gathered at dinner in heaven—Valhalla—when an uninvited 13th guest, the god of darkness, shot Balder, the god of joy and gladness. When Balder died, the world went dark, and from that moment 13 was considered ominous. Likewise, in Christian scripture, there were 13 diners at the Last Supper, following which Jesus was killed. Many myths claim when 13 people dine together, ill fate awaits one of the diners.

Okay, interesting….. But do terrible events really occur on this day? I don’t know, you tell me: There have been numerous natural disasters and tragic events on past Friday the 13ths, including the unexpected major snow storm in Buffalo in 2006, the Andes flight disaster of 1972, Hurricane Charley in 2004 and a large-scale ship disappearance in 1773. The arrest of Al Capone occurred on Friday the 13th, as did the death of Tupac Shakur. Apollo 13 took off at exactly 1:13 p.m. (1313 military time) on 4/11/70 (digits that add up to 13, naturally). Friday the 13th has also been associated with stock market crashes and an increase in car accidents [approximately 60 percent every Friday the 13th].

Some very intelligent and savvy people believed in—or at least gave homage to—this superstition. Henry Ford would never do business on Friday the 13th. Franklin Roosevelt wouldn’t travel on this day. And even now, the Otis Elevator Company does not include a “13” button in its elevators.

Seriously resisting the urge to run home and bury my head in the covers……

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