Friday, May 13, 2011

Friggatriskaidekaphobia, Anyone?

Thought for the day:  Luck is the idol of the idle.

How ironic that on a day I intended to write about Friday the 13th, Blogger took a dive. A bit of nasty luck, eh?

Friggatriskaidikaphobia is a freaky cool word that means fear of Friday the 13th. Since Friday is considered by some to be an unlucky day, and thirteen is feared by some as an unlucky number, it should come as no surprise that when the two converge, superstitious fears multiply accordingly. We could say that

Unlucky Friday + Unlucky Thirteen = Unluckier Friday

The word superstition means a belief or practice resulting from ignorance and fear of the unknown, a trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation. Although I have no statistics to back me up, I'll hazard a guess that there are far more superstitious males than females. I mean, really, have you ever heard of a woman refusing to change her lucky drawers or socks? No, of course not. Although I will concede that this peculiar attachment to one's dirty socks and undies and by extension, one's aversion to donning clean ones, may in fact be rooted in something entirely different than a belief in their ability to prolong a streak of good luck. For any gentlemen with a proclivity to wear said scuzzy skivvies, be forewarned: No matter how much  luck you believe those skivvies may bring you in games of chance or sport, I double dog guarantee you that wearing them will NOT lead to any semblance of luck with the ladies.

Most of us are familiar with superstitions dealing with black cats, spilling salt, breaking mirrors, and walking under ladders, but have you ever wondered where those superstitions originated?

And why FRIDAYS, for goodness sake?

And why the number THIRTEEN?

Since this is the only Friday the 13th we'll be encountering this calendar year, I thought today would be the perfect time to investigate.

WHY FRIDAY  : In ancient Rome, Friday was the designated day for executions, which certainly ended a streak of good luck for anyone whacked by the authorities, whether he was wearing his lucky bowling shirt or not. Witches' covens allegedly gather on Fridays, too, and in the Middle Ages, Friday was actually dubbed "Witches' Sabbath". The Good Friday crucifixion of Christ casts the greatest stigma on the day for Christians, but other Biblical events are also attributed to Friday: the day Eve gave Adam the apple, the day they were expelled from Eden, the day God struck the Tower of Babel, and the day Solomon's Temple was destroyed.
Some of the strange superstitions regarding Friday are:

  • Clothing made on a Friday will never fit properly.
  • Visiting a doctor on a Friday will lead to no good news.
  • Changing bedclothes on a Friday will lead to nightmares.
  • Marrying or moving on a Friday will come to a bad end.
  • Cutting your nails on a Friday will lead to sorrow.
  • Receiving bad news on a Friday will cause more wrinkles than receiving them on any other day of the week.
  • Starting a trip on a Friday will lead to misfortune.
  • Ships that set sail on a Friday are doomed to suffer bad luck.
About a hundred years ago, to disprove the superstition about ships, the Brits commissioned H.M.S. Friday. The crew was selected on a Friday, the keel was set on a Friday,  the ship was launched on a Friday, and the man chosen to captain the ship was even named Friday. The ship set sail on its maiden voyage on a Friday, too. And was never heard from again.

There are 13 members in a witch's coven. 
WHY THIRTEEN: You're probably more familiar with this word: triskaidekaphobia. That's the fear of the number thirteen, and it's no secret that many buildings don't acknowledge a thirteenth floor, and many cities opt to skip Thirteenth Street. But, WHY? 

For one thing, a witch's coven has thirteen members. There are also thirteen steps leading to the gallows, and thirteen knots in a hangman's noose. The blade of a guillotine falls thirteen feet, and at her trial, Lizzie Borden spoke thirteen words. There were thirteen people at the Last Supper, and the thirteenth card in a deck of tarot cards? Death.

Apollo 13, the thirteenth mission to be launched from pad #39, (13 X 3)  was aborted after an explosion in the fuel cell of the service module, after leaving the launching pad at 13:13 CST. The date? April thirteenth.

One theory about the root of triskaidekaphobia lays it at the feet of ancient man. It claims that when man was first learning to count, he counted on ten fingers and two feet, so anything beyond twelve was considered frightening and mysterious. On the other hand, what I find mysterious is why he didn't count on his ten toes, too. It's highly possible that he refused to take off his lucky socks.

Would you believe the number thirteen was once considered lucky? For one thing, some early religions considered the thirteenth step to be the one souls take to enter the eternal glory of the afterlife. And in the prehistoric goddess-worshiping cultures, the number thirteen represented femininity, and corresponded to the number of lunar (and menstrual) cycles in a year. The Earth Mother of Laussel, an ancient carving found in France, depicts a female holding a crescent-shaped horn with, you guessed it,  thirteen notches in it. Later, when society became male-dominated and the solar calendar replaced the lunar one, twelve became the "perfect" number, replacing the "imperfect" thirteen.

So, there ya have it. Now you know a little bit about the superstitions associated with Friday the thirteenth. Me? I still prefer the TGIF approach.

How about you? Do you have any superstitions or lucky socks?

OK, time for (a drum roll, if you will ...) the


**  In New York, a 21-year-old happened to be riding in a car that was pulled over by the police. As soon as the car stopped, the young man immediately took off running, and jumped into the Hudson River. He was able to latch onto a branch 250 feet downstream, where he waited for the police to rescue him from the fifty degree water. Know why he ran? It seems that the shivering young man thought there was a warrant out for his arrest. There wasn't. Sounds to me like there should have been.

** When two female investigators in Vienna, Austria began questioning his client, a lawyer (ahem) showed his briefs. The attorney dropped his trousers and then perched on a desk in his tightie whities with his back to the women. The client is suspected of a sex crime, but now the lawyer is being investigated, as well. (Maybe they were his lucky shorts?)

** After three late-night escape attempts, a German shepherd named Jack finally escaped from an Oregon veterinarian's office by pulling his kennel open, tripping the dead bolt on the clinic's back door and pulling down the handle to get outside. In the process, Jack tripped three motion detectors and tore open four bags of dog food. The vet said he was "impressed" with Jack's impressive recovery from the flu. Me? I wonder if that dog's last name was Bauer.
Bauer, Jack Bauer.

Until Monday, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. Oh my God! Where do you find this stuff. The one that had me was Apollo 13. That is too truly bizarre to even comprehend.

    And hey, Jack Bauer. Sounds like my kind of man, in lucky shorts or not. (The dog, not the actual man.)

    Have a great weekend!

  2. Wow. Sounds like the dog was smarter than the 21-year-old. ;)

    Friday the 13th has never bothered me. Probably because nothing awful has happened to me on one. (Uh...knocking wood now. Just in case...)

  3. Hi, Anne. Since I'm an unrepentant trivia freak, I sometimes surf the web in search of unusual information.(It's a sickness, I tell you!)

    Hi, Linda. I don't worry about Friday the 13th either. Matter of fact, I was born on the 13th and always thought it was neat when my birthday fell on a Friday.

    You ladies take care.

  4. Awesome trivia Susan. And Jack is pretty cool. :)

  5. Great post! It has all of my favourite things -humour, fascinating trivia, and awesome dog tricks!

  6. Hi, Skippy. Glad you liked it. Take care.

    Hi, Kara. Glad you liked it, too, and thank you for stopping by.

  7. I bet you rock at trivia pursuit! I want you on my team!

  8. I'm not really superstitious. But I do knock on wood!
    Oddly my grandmother who was superstitious believed that 13 and black cats are lucky for our family.

  9. I was really bummed when blogger went down on Friday. I guess it was the 13th. How appropriate.

  10. Hi, Jilda. Indeed. I have a head crammed full of utterly useless information. Thanks for signing on, dear lady, and welcome aboard.

    Hi, Al. I'm a wood-knocker, too, and when a piece of wood isn't handy, I take a few whacks at my head. (close enough!) Take care.

    Hi, Florida. Yeah, a lot of people were upset over the Blogger crash, but I don't think it had anything to do with it being Friday the 13th. Blogger's an equal opportunity crasher.