November 13, 2009

November 13, 2009
Friday the 13th

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Friday the 13th! A lot of people are very superstitious about the combination of the day and date coming together. Now personally I am not but where does it come from?

The sixth day of the week and the number 13 both have foreboding reputations said to date from ancient times, and their inevitable conjunction from one to three times a year (there happen to be three such occurrences in 2009, two of them right in a row) portends more misfortune than some credulous minds can bear. According to some sources it's the most widespread superstition in the United States today. Some people refuse to go to work on Friday the 13th; some won't eat in restaurants; many wouldn't think of setting a wedding on the date.

How many Americans at the turn of the new millennium actually suffer from this condition? According to Dr. Donald Dossey, a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of phobias (and coiner of the term paraskevidekatriaphobia, also spelled paraskavedekatriaphobia), the figure may be as high as 21 million. If he's right, at least eight percent of Americans are still in the grips of a very old superstition.

Exactly how old is difficult to say, because determining the origins of superstitions is an inexact science, at best. In fact, it's mostly guesswork.

Still other sources speculate that the number 13 may have been purposely vilified by the founders of patriarchal religions in the early days of western civilization because it represented femininity. Thirteen had been revered in prehistoric goddess-worshiping cultures, we are told, because it corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year (13 x 28 = 364 days). The "Earth Mother of Laussel," for example a 27,000-year-old carving found near the Lascaux caves in France often cited as an icon of matriarchal spirituality depicts a female figure holding a cresent-shaped horn bearing 13 notches. As the solar calendar triumphed over the lunar with the rise of male-dominated civilization, it is surmised, so did the "perfect" number 12 over the "imperfect" number 13, thereafter considered anathema.

On the other hand, one of the earliest concrete taboos associated with the number 13 a taboo still observed by some superstitious folks today, apparently is said to have originated in the East with the Hindus, who believed, for reasons I haven't been able to ascertain, that it is always unlucky for 13 people to gather in one place say, at dinner.

I have heard from Christians, the Bible tells us there were exactly 13 present at the Last Supper. One of the dinner guests er, disciples betrayed Jesus Christ, setting the stage for the Crucifixion.

Did I mention the Crucifixion took place on a Friday?

Some say Friday's bad reputation goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. It was on a Friday, supposedly, that Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit. Adam bit, as we all learned in Sunday School, and they were both ejected from Paradise. Tradition also holds that the Great Flood began on a Friday; God tongue-tied the builders of the Tower of Babel on a Friday; the Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday; and, of course, Friday was the day of the week on which Christ was crucified. It is therefore a day of penance for Christians.

Well there are many other factions to the day Friday the 13th so I have only presented a few. Those are my thoughts. What about yours? Drop me a line and let me know.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope and happiness.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab