Triskaidekaphobia: Fear of the number thirteen.
Paraskevidekatriaphobia: Fear of Friday the 13th.
An obviously irrational concept that a mere number can bring bad luck to someone. Or that a specific day of the week can be unlucky. But that doesn't stop us from dwelling on the possibility.
This week gives us Friday the 13th. January and October are the only months with a Friday the 13th for the year 2017.
The tradition of Friday being a day of bad luck dates back centuries with some of the more common theories linking it to significant events in the Bible believed to have taken place on Friday such as the Crucifixion of Christ, Eve offering Adam the apple in the Garden of Eden, the beginning of the great flood.
Many sources for the superstition surrounding the number thirteen and its association with bad luck also derive from Christianity with the Last Supper being cited as the origin. Judas was the thirteenth person to be seated at the table.
And when you put the two bad luck symbols together you get Friday the 13th…the day associated with misfortune.
One legend of the origin of Friday the 13th as unlucky comes from the persecution of the Knights Templar. Philip IV of France borrowed enormous sums of money from the very wealthy Templars to finance a war with England. An ineffectual king and an even worse military commander, Philip was easily defeated. He saw a way of both currying favor with the Pope and eliminating his huge debt. On that fateful day of Friday, October 13, 1307 he ordered all Templars arrested and their property seized. The Grandmaster of the order, Jacques DeMolay was thrown in prison along with several other high-ranking members of the order. The Knights Templar, which had dominated medieval life for two centuries, was no more. Unfortunately for Philip, the Templars had learned of his planned treachery before hand. Many of them escaped and their vast stores of treasure were hidden from the King’s soldiers. Jacques DeMolay was burned alive after being tortured when he refused to admit to any wrongdoing. Another legend that has also persisted is that Jacques DeMolay cursed both Philip IV and Pope Clement V, as he died. Philip and Clement died within months of DeMolay’s death.
Superstition is a belief or notion not based on reason or knowledge. An irrational belief. Lots of superstitions came into being during the Dark Ages, a time when living conditions were so severe that people reached out to anything that might bring them help and solace with the results being explanations for what seemed unexplainable at the time. Religious beliefs and lack of scientific knowledge helped to spawn many superstitions.
Superstitions differ from culture to culture, but we all have them even if it's only paying surface homage to the concept. We don't believe in the good luck vs. bad luck of chain letters, yet it often comes down to saying what's the harm, then sending the letter on to avoid breaking the chain.
We often follow the tradition of the superstition without really knowing why it's the traditional thing to do. If we blow out all the candles on our birthday cake with one breath while making a silent wish, then the wish will come true. When expressing a desire for good luck (we'll be able to go on the picnic if it doesn't rain), we grin, then we knock on wood as we emit an embarrassed chuckle.
In Western folklore, many superstitions are associated with bad luck. In addition to Friday the 13th there's walking under a ladder, having a black cat cross your path, spilling salt, stepping on a crack, and breaking a mirror among others.
In addition to cultural superstitions, there's also certain occupations that evoke various rituals to bring on good luck. It seems to me that gamblers and sports figures have the most superstitions and rituals to insure good luck.
Do you have any superstitions that you hold dear? Are they more of a traditional situation handed down through your family or are they superstitions that have come down through history?
And I'm sure there won't be any unpleasantries or bizarre accidents this Friday (knock on wood).