Nov 11, 2009

"What Is...?" Wednesday

.Friday The 13th (horrified gasp!)

n the Western world, a significant chunk of the population suspects bad things will happen whenever the 13th day of a month occurs on the day of the week called Friday. But the really strange thing is that most of the people who believe the day is unlucky offer no explanation at all... logical or illogical. As with most superstitions, people fear Friday the 13th for its own sake, without any need for background information. The superstition does have deep, compelling roots however, and the origins help explain why the belief is so widespread today.

The Biblical roots of Friday the 13th are often thought to come from three main events. The first event is when Eve tempted Adam to eat the apple. It is believed this incident happened on a Friday, making Fridays unlucky days. Another Biblical tradition believes the Great Flood and the confusion at the Tower of Babel both began on Fridays.

Both Friday and the number 13 were once closely associated with capital punishment. In British tradition, Friday was the conventional day for public hangings, and there were supposedly 13 steps leading up to the noose. 

* The Templar Knights (or Poor Knights of Christ) were a monastic order of knights founded in 1112 A.D.  Over the years the Templars rose from their humble beginnings to become the wealthiest of the Crusading Orders - eventually garnering the favour of the Church and the collective European monarchs.
However, after two centuries of defending the Christian faith, the Order met its demise when Philip IV - known as Philip le Belle (the Fair) - sought to destroy the Templars. Historians are generally in agreement that Philip was motivated by greed rather than his belief that the Templars were corrupt. Regardless of his motivations, Philip had the Templars arrested on October 13, 1307 and ultimately tortured and killed (there are  many conspiracy theories surrounding the Knights Templar but I'm not going to make this post that long!)

In the end, the  folklore of Friday the 13th doesn't have much to do with people's fears today. The fear has much more to do with personal experience. People learn at a young age that Friday the 13th is supposed to be unlucky.., for whatever reason and then they look for evidence that the legend is true. The evidence isn't hard to come by, of course.

If you get in a car wreck on one Friday the 13th, lose your wallet or even spill your coffee... that day will probably stay with you. But if you think about it, bad things  big and small, happen all the time. If you're looking for bad luck on Friday the 13th, you'll probably find it.

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