Here comes another Friday the 13th: you triskadekaphobes might want to just stay in bed. But why? Why is Friday the 13th is viewed as unlucky? Some say it’s because Jesus was crucified on a Friday and that Judas, the man who betrayed him, was the 13th disciple. Not quite sure how they do that counting, though, as Judas wasn’t the last to join that merry band.
In Norse mythology, 13 is associated with Loki who killed the god Balder with an arrow made of mistletoe. Another theory is that Witch’s covens consist of 13 members. As the member of several covens over the years, I can state that is untrue. But many folks still believe it.
Numerologists and mathematicians say that 13, coming after the number 12 (which is considered to be the perfect number) spoils perfection. All those twelves in mythology and folklore — 12 Olympians, 12 Apostles, 12 months in the year, 12 animals in the Chinese horoscope — then 13 comes along, messing with that harmonic. That could be why the number is considered unlucky, too.
Many superstitious people still view Friday the 13th as a day of bad luck. But history shows us that isn’t always the case. These events, in chronological order, may help nullify Friday the 13th’s reputation as a bad day:
☺ On Friday 13 November, 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote: “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in the world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” That last phrase lived on becoming one of Franklin’s most famous quotes.
☺ On Friday, January 13, 1854, the accordion was patented. The discovery that air moving over various-sized reeds made music had been around for ages. But this new design allowed for a keyboard, giving musicians more control. You might hate it but you must admit that, without the accordion, we would not have this guy.
☺ Famed director Alfred Hitchcock was born. The “Master of Suspense” was born in London on August 13, 1899. His childhood obesity coupled with strict parents — his father once sent him to the police station with a note telling the bobbies to lock young Alfred up for 10 minutes as a punishment — laid a foundation upon which was built some of cinema’s most gripping and mysterious films.
☺ Captain Alfred Dreyfus, an officer in the French army, was finally pardoned on Friday, October 13, 1906. The victim of racism, Dreyfus was scapegoated as a spy in 1894 after French Intelligence intercepted messages between the French military and the German command. On a vague description, combined with conjecture and racism, it was decided was the spy was a Jew from Alsace, Alfred Dreyfus. He was tried and convicted and sent to Devil’s Island. As he sat on that rock, his wife and brother worked on getting him a retrial. In the face of evidence pointing to Dreyfus’ innocence, he was found guilty of treason again. Ten days of public outcry caused President Emile Loubet to pardon Dreyfus.
☺ The iconic Hollywood sign was unveiled on Friday 13 July, 1923. It originally read HOLLYWOODLAND, and was an advertisement for a real estate development. It was built only to last a few months but, since it is built of pipes and telephone poles, it has survived the Southern California climate and earthquakes for over 90 years. The sign that sits on Mt. Lee, becoming the symbol of the movie industry, was declared a Historical Landmark in 1973.
☺After 3 1/2 years, Athens was liberated from Axis powers by Greek and Allied troops on Friday, October 13, 1944. It took Italian and German divisions in a blitzkrieg for the Axis to take Greece. During that 3 1/2 year occupation, 40,00 starved to death due to a devastated economy. Many more were “executed” by German troops. American, Russian and British troops joined with Greek troops to drive the Germans north, liberating the Greek capital.
☺ The great character actor, Steve Buscemi was born Friday December 13, 1957, in Brooklyn, New York. In the early 1980s, before breaking into film, Buscemi worked as a NYC firefighter. After the World Trade Center fell, the actor returned to his old job, working 12-hour shifts with his old crew to dig through the rubble. Until several years afterward, nobody but his old firehouse knew about his volunteerism.
☺ The first equal opportunity employment act for government workers became law on October 13, 1967 when President Lyndon Johnson signed an executive order. Executive Order #1246 ended discrimination on account of gender in U.S. government hiring practices. It widened the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include government workers and contractors.
☺ Black Sabbath released their self-titled first album on Friday, February 13, 1970. Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward and Ozzy Osbourne laid down their blend of bluesy sound with heavy guitar and that sound became their trademark. The occult-themed lyrics did cause problems among parents and authority figures. Still, the band found a niche, making Black Sabbath rock stars.
☺ The 2004 Summer Olympics came home to Greece, the birthplace of both ancient and modern Olympics. The opening ceremony took place on Friday, August 13 in Athens. With 201 countries participating, this was the largest Olympic games to date. Worldwide, almost four million people watched. Only one event, the shot put, was held in Olympia, the actual site of the ancient games.
Some truly awful things have happened on Friday the 13th but, statistically, it is no more unlucky than any other day. If Friday the 13th still bothers you, consider the other things that are celebrated on May 13th. Like cough drops, apple pies, tulips and cocktails. It is also Blame Someone Else Day. Maybe combining cocktails and blaming someone else will get you through this Friday the 13th. Good luck!
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