Who’s Afraid Of Friday The 13th?
Are you superstitious about Friday the 13th? You’ll probably say no but think about it for a minute. Are you at all hesitant to do the things you wouldn’t give a second thought to on other days? Are you more alert and careful when driving on Friday the 13th? More cautious about consuming fast food – or eating Sushi for lunch? More wary of strangers you encounter than you would be on any other day? More likely to avoid ladders and walk around them no matter how inconvenient it might be rather than take the direct route by walking under them? Is your financial life affected on Friday the 13th, making you more conservative about buying or trading shares? If so, you fit the profile of the average investor and that of the biggest investors in being wary of the market today. You are not alone even in the world of hard-headed stock exchange traders. Despite what our rational minds tell us, there is an almost subliminal reaction to the knowledge that today is ‘different’ from other Fridays. And in 2012 we have the maximum number of Fridays falling on the 13th day of the month: 3, to be precise: January, April and July. And they fall exactly 13 weeks apart! Still insist you are not the least, tiny bit superstitious? University of Delaware Mathematics Professor Tom Fernsler – nicknamed ”Dr. 13″ for his extensive research on cultural anomalies involving the number 13 - maintains that “...95% of people in the world are superstitious about something – and the other 5% are liars.”
Who’s Afraid Of Friday The 13th?
Friggtriskaidekaphobia is fear of Friday the 13th.The moniker comes from the Norse goddess Frigg and the term for fear of the number 13 (triskaidekaphobia) wherever it appears. The origins of the concept of ’unlucky 13′ are murky at best. Some think it originated with the story of The Last Supper where 12 apostles were supposedly gathered for a Seder with their Teacher. According to the Christian legend, the Teacher foretold that one of the apostles would betray him. The one who was singled out for this supposed act of betrayal was one Judas Iscariot, allegedly paid 30 silver coins for delivering the tell-tale kiss that identified the Teacher as the one the Romans sought. The superstition has it, therefore, that having 13 guests at a dinner table will lead to the death of one of them within one year. Would you like to be the 13th at table? Would you accept an invitation to dinner tonight knowing that there would be 12 other guests? If the idea makes you even vaguely uneasy, you are not alone.
Another source for the superstition is the outlawing and massacre of members of the Knights Templar, a lay order of knights formed during the Crusades. The Templars served a dual function; they were charged with guarding the cross-Europe route to Jerusalem but also to protect of the Holy City itself. As a lay order the Templars were answerable only to the Pope. By Papal decree the Templars were exempt from taxes and the local laws of the countries in which they lived but the centre of Templar power was Montsegur, a mountain fortress in the Languedoc region of France. As the Templars grew in influence they were given various land grants by the sovereigns of the territories in which they lived. As they prospered, the Templars were able to lend money to the various crowned heads of Europe and even to the Pope himself. This was possible because the Templars had a Papal dispensation to charge interest on these loans. Prior to the dispensation, Christians were forbidden from charging interest, otherwise known as usury. Consequently, the monely lenders from Palestine to England were usually Jews to whom the prohibition against usury did not apply.
The Templar Demise
After two centuries of crusading wars, the strain of re-paying loans to the Templars began to pinch the royal coffers of Europe and the Vatican. Clearly, a way had to be found to reduce the influence of the order at all levels. Eventually, trumped up charges of satanism, blasphemy, and heresy were brought against them and, in a pre-dawn raid on Montsegur on the 13th of October 1307, Templars who had not managed to escape were arrested, jailed and tortured until they died or were burned at the stake by the Inquisition. Certainly, Friday the 13th of October 1307 was not a lucky date for anyone associated with the Templars – except perhaps those who owed them huge sums of money and were now freed from their debts!
The Legacy of Friday The 13th
Over time the number 13 acquired the reputation of being unlucky in any context. At various times in history, hostesses were known to retain ‘spare’ dinner guests to make up a party of 14 in order to avoid the embarrassment of having 13 at the table. Even in the 21st century, some airports have no Gate 13, and most office buildings and nearly all hotels have no floor 13 or rooms or offices with the number 13! Think about it. You’ve earned yourself a raise and a promotion but you discover that your new office number is to be 1313. Are you absolutely certain you don’t harbour even a smidgeon of the 13 superstition?
The books cited above are all available in Delia’s “A List” Friday The 13th Shop HERE.
Image credit: Goddess Frigg courtesy of Wikimedia Creative Commons.