Town Crier

This Friday is May 13, and for all intent purposes, promises to be an ordinary, spring day in the month of May.

But for some, it will transform to a day of fear and dread without cause, like crossing paths with a black cat, or mistakenly breaking a mirror, simply be­cause it holds the date of 13.

While Friday the 13th seems like a rare and ominous phenomenon, the 13th of any month is slightly more likely to fall on a Fri­day than any other day of the week.

For those who harbor an irrational amount of fear and dread for this date, the good news is May 13 is the only Friday the 13th you will have to endure this ca­lendar year. Some years have up to four months when the 13th falls on a Friday.

Paraskevidekatriaphoia, the fear of Friday the 13th, is a form of Triskaphobia, the fear of the number 13, and has been a well known phobia for centuries.

As for the cause of this well known superstition, it is hard to pinpoint the pre­cise origin of the fear of Friday the 13th, but it is evident that both Fridays and the number thirteen have been regarded as doomed in many cultures throughout history.

Certain cultures, such as Ancient Egyptians, consider the number 13 to be lucky, while other cultures harbor similar phobias of different numbers.

Western cultures who have historically relied on the number 12 as a sign of completeness, and often considered 12 as a perfect number, are more likely to consider 13 as a doomed number.

12 is the base number for many ancient numerical systems that are still used today.

Our modern day calendar has 12 months, a single day consists of two 12 hour portions known as AM and PM, and the U.S. measurement system is still based on a foot of 12 inches. We also embrace the 12 signs of the Zodiac and the 12 days of Christmas.

Some feel that because the number 12 is held in such high regard, that it is only natural to assume the following number would be found with flaws.

One of the earliest negative connections with the number 13 dates back to Norse Mythology.

Loki, the God of mischief, became the 13th, and uninvited, guest to a banquet of the 12 Gods. At the banquet, Loki tricked the blind God, Hodr, into shooting his brother, Balder, the God of light, joy and goodness, killing him instantly.

A similar scenario with Christian biblical ties holds more significant weight in sealing the bad luck superstition to the number 13.

According to the story of the Last Supper, Jesus and his 12 apostles were in attendance, one of whom was Judas, often thought of as the 13th attendant. Judas betrayed Jesus, who was then crucified the next day on Good Friday.

The seating arrangement for the Last Supper is be­lieved to be the main reason for the longstanding belief that the number 13 is an omen for death.

Friday's negative associations are also held at the root of Christianity. The most important being the crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday.

However, Friday is also said to be the day Eve gave Adam the apple from the Tree of Knowledge, and the day Cain killed his brother, Abel.

The combination of un­lucky Friday and the doom­ed number 13 seemed to really gain momentum dur­ing the Victorian era, promoted with the publication of Thomas Lawson's popular novel “Friday the Thir­teenth.”

This book tells the tale of an unscrupulous broker who took advantage of the superstitions around the date to deliberately crash the stock market.

Attempts have been made to debunk the stigma surrounding Friday the 13th, including the start of the exclusive social club called The Thirteen Club.

Founded by Captain Wil­lian Fowler of New York, club members would meet in room 13 of the Knicker­bocker Cottage on the 13th day of the month to enjoy a 13-course dinner.

Despite acquiring membership by many important members of society, including four former U.S. Presidents, popular opinion of the unlucky number did not change significantly.

Hollywood has also had a hand in the continuation of the Friday the 13th curse with the making of such popular films such as the horror franchise “Friday the 13th” and the more re­cent film, “The Da Vinci Code.”

Researchers estimate that as many as 10 percent of the U.S. population still fear the number 13.

It is also estimated that the phobia surrounding Friday the 13 results in an annual financial loss of more than $800 million dollars as many avoid marrying, traveling or signing contracts on Friday the 13th.

According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Ashe­ville, NC, more than 80 percent of high rise buildings in the U.S. do not have a 13th floor, and most hotels, hospitals and airports avoid using the number 13 for rooms, gates and flights.

Before you succumb to the fear of the dreaded Friday the 13th, be aware there are also plenty of good things that actually occurred on Friday the 13th.

The iconic Hollywood sign was dedicated on Friday, July 13, 1923.

President Lyndon B. John­son signed the Equal Em­ployment Opportunity or­der on Friday, Oct, 13, 1967.

The first iteration of the Super Mario Brothers vi­deo game was released on Friday, Sept. 13, 1985.

Also, Friday the 13th is the birthday of many be­loved celebrities such as comedian/actor Julia Louis-Dreyfus, actor Christopher Plummer, the iconic 1990’s twins Mary Kate and Ash­ley Olsen, and musician Taylor Swift.

In fact, Taylor Swift has given the number 13 a re­cent positive endorsement, as the number has proven to be nothing but good luck for her.

Swift was not only born on the 13th, but also turn­ed 13 years old on Friday the 13th.

Her first number one hit song has a 13-second intro, and her first album went gold in 13 weeks.

At every major music award ceremony where she has won, she was seated in the 13th seat, 13th row or 13th section of the venue.

In fact, she considers the number 13 so lucky that early in her career she often performed with the number 13 written on her hand.

On a personal note, I myself was also born on the 13th, turned 13 on Fri­day the 13th, and will be celebrating my 30th wedding anniversary next month on the 13th of June.

Now that we are all well settled into the 21 century, it is time to set aside su­perstitions from days gone by, and embrace this Fri­day the 13th for all that it really is, the end of the long work week and the beginning of another glorious weekend.

The only bad luck that comes to mind is that we have to go back to work on Monday.

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