- Sep 12, 2001
I've never had anything of note happen on a Friday the 13th, but I am quite superstitious
jaloopa said:When matriachal societies were dominant, there were 13 months (13*4weeks, makes more sense than 12), 13 signs of the zodiac etc. When males became dominant, this was changed and 13 became the number of a witches coven and similar. Kind of like the devil being pictured as a hooved animal like some old pagan gods when he was originally depicted as a shining angel. Its just propaganda on a huge scale
Your Unlucky Day
The religious roots of triskaidekaphobia.
BY JOHN J. MILLER
Friday, October 13, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
Feeling unlucky today? If so, you're in the minority but certainly not alone: About 9% of Americans believe that Friday the 13th is jinxed, according to a 1990 Gallup poll. It's one of our more prevalent star-crossed superstitions, running a little behind a black cat crossing your path (which worries 14%) and walking beneath a ladder (12%) and a little ahead of breaking a mirror (4%).
Religious authorities have often warned against putting faith in superstition. The First Commandment contains a clear injunction against worshipping strange gods. In "Summa Theologiae," the 13th-century manual of Roman-Catholic doctrine, Thomas Aquinas wrote: "Superstition is a vice contrary to religion by excess, not that it offers more to the divine worship than true religion, but because it offers divine worship either to whom it ought not, or in a manner it ought not."
In any given year, between one and three Fridays fall on the 13th of the month. As with so much folklore, the origins of this superstition are murky, but there is no shortage of theories about why some people view these days as inauspicious. It almost certainly arises from the union of two separate and older traditions about the sixth day of the week and the number 13.
It turns out that "TGIF" hasn't been a slogan for all times and places. Public executioners once favored Fridays. Most notably, Friday marks the day of the crucifixion.
Thirteen is trickier. The Bible assigns it no special significance, and Augustine even appears to have regarded it is as a good number--he once made a point of saying a prayer 13 times, possibly because 13 people attended the Last Supper.
By the 19th century, however, the number's reputation had taken a dark turn, at least in the English-speaking world: If 13 people sat at a table, it was frequently said, one of them would die within a year. This fear may have its roots in the Last Supper, too. Dread of 13 eventually took other forms, and today it's a rare building that has a 13th floor. Continental, Air France and Lufthansa don't put a 13th row on their planes.
It wasn't until about a century ago, however, that Friday and 13 were joined in disharmonic convergence. In his book "13: The Story of the World's Most Popular Superstition," Nathaniel Lachenmeyer credits an obscure novel, "Friday, the Thirteenth," by Thomas W. Lawson, with bringing them together in 1907.
More rational types will have a field day with all of this hocus-pocus and no trouble invoking contrary evidence. In the old nursery rhyme, it is said that "Friday's child is loving and giving" (compared with Wednesday's child, who is "full of woe"). And if 13 is such rotten luck, then why did things turn out all right for the 13 colonies?
Superstitions are best defined as irrational beliefs: so they are, in a fundamental way, beyond argument. Yet people don't accept them because they're irrational. True believers can summon piles of anecdotes and think that they reveal a convincing pattern. A Cuban-American in Florida could point out that Fidel Castro was born on Friday the 13th (in August 1926). Or recall the day (in August 2004) when Hurricane Charley made landfall in his state, wreaking some $15 billion in damage.
Those of a more scientific bent might try to conjure empirical data. As it happens, a few researchers have studied Friday the 13th. In 2002, the American Journal of Psychiatry published a paper by Dr. Simo Nayha, who examined traffic fatalities in his native Finland between 1971 and 1997. He determined that although men were only 2% more likely to die in an accident on Friday the 13th, women were 63% more likely. In 1993, the British Medical Journal reported that "The risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52% on Friday the 13th."
People who want to find a higher meaning in this will do so. "Superstition is the religion of feeble minds," noted Edmund Burke. Dr. Nayha, for his part, acknowledged that mere chance could not account for the fates of female motorists in Finland. He speculated that it's not bad luck but rather bad nerves--caused by worrying about bad luck, and affecting the way certain people drive--that make the day so dangerous.
Perhaps Will Rogers offered the best assessment: "Friday the 13th may not be exactly unlucky, but it hasn't done us a whole lot of good."
Mr. Miller writes for National Review and is the author of "A Gift of Freedom."