Friday, May 13, 2011

Do you feel lucky, punk?

So... Friday the 13th. How did it get such a bad rap? I've never had a problem with a Friday the 13th. In fact, they usually seem to be pretty good days for me. (Although I think that may be just because they're Fridays.) But since I was curious and this is the only Friday the 13th for 2011, I did a little Googling. Lots of theories out there on why Friday the 13th is considered unlucky, none having to do with that Jason guy that lives near Camp Crystal Lake (**chee chee chee **haah haah haah).

The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia, which I think is just a bunch of random letters put together that translates to "silly superstition". And it's really a combination of the fear of the number 13 (triskaidekaphobia) and the fear of Fridays. What?? Fear of Fridays?? Who doesn't love Friday? It's the start of the weekend! I hate to say it, but lot of those fears stem from early Christians. They came to fear Fridays for lots of reasons... Jesus being crucified on a Friday is a big one. But then why do they call it GOOD Friday? I read that Friday was execution day in pagan Rome, and many pre-Christian cultures observed Friday as a holy day, so naturally the Christians veered away from it.

As for the number 13, you've got 13 people at the Last Supper. Not too lucky for the guest of honor. Before that, the Vikings believed that Loki crashed a dinner party in Valhalla, making himself the uninvited 13th guest, and stirred up a mess of trouble. When civilization was moving from female- to male-dominated, the number 13 was associated with the 13 lunar (and menstrual) cycles in a year... you know the guys don't like THAT! And so the theory is that the number 13 was purposely vilified by males during the shift. (I think it's time to shift back to a female-dominated world!) But not every culture considers 13 unlucky. The ancient Egyptians and Chinese considered it lucky. And think about this... there are 13 weeks in each season. Pretty nifty, eh?

Friday the 13th as an unlucky day has its own jumbled history, including a disputed fact about King Phillip ordering the arrest of all the Knights Templar on Friday, October 13th, 1307 in an attempt to bring and end to the group. But here's the interesting thing... not much attention was paid to Friday the 13th as an unlucky day until the late 1800s.

Like I said, there are lots of thoeries out there. If you'd like to learn more about it, you can read more here, and here, and maybe here. Or just do a Google search.

In the meantime, just enjoy your Friday! Oh... and take a look at Saturn in the sky tonight. It will be the bright dot closest to the moon. (Link for diagram on EarthSky. Might take a minute to load the sound clip.)

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