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Thank God It’s Friday … the 13th?

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For triskaidekaphobics (people with a fear of the number 13) and paraskevidekatriaphobics (people with a fear of Friday the 13th) everywhere, today is not a good day.

According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed. (from Wikipedia)

So where did this come from and why is it that in some countries (like Spain and Greece), Tuesday is the day to worry about?

On one hand, there are theories relating to Norse Mythology, the Knights Templar or the Battle of Hastings, pointing directly to Friday the 13th. Other theories talk about a more recent combination of the unlucky number 13 and the day. For example, in numerology, 12 is a symbol of completeness (the months of the year, the Gods of Olympus, the Disciples of Jesus and so on) so that 13 is seen to be breaking the harmony and is therefore bad.

Common ways to get around the bad luck are by eliminating the 13th floor of buildings, rows of seats in an airplane or by having extra guests at dinner parties, as happens in France.

In Paris no house bears the number, and persons, called Quartorziennes (q.v.), are reserved to make a fourteenth at dinner parties. (from Bartleby.com)

Friday is mentioned as an unlucky day in the 14th-Century Canterbury Tales and is also, according to Christian belief, the day Jesus was crucified.

Conversely, the Greeks are quite happy with Friday and 13 for them is generally a lucky number, but they remember Tuesday, May 29th, 1453, when the city of Constantinople was besieged and taken by the Ottoman Turks. This fact, when combined with the number 13, makes Tuesday the 13th the day to avoid. Similarly, in Spain “martes 13” is supposedly unlucky because of the derivation of “martes / Tuesday” from Mars, the God of War or according to another theory, the day when Adam ate the apple.

In any case, Friday probably has a different meaning for you and me, so enjoy the weekend and here’s a short video with an alternative explanation …

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  1. November 15, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    I remember the film “El guerrero número 13” (I do not know in English): Antonio Banderas was the 13th warrior…

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