As I am writing this, it is Friday, the 13 of January. I hadn’t given it much thought until this morning. Following my semi-ritual, I woke up around 6 am or so, opened my I-pad and checked email. Aarrgh, 56 pieces of mail and only 20 “real” ones and of those, only a few I wanted to look at. I’ll save my cooking.com, and such for later. Much spam, in spite of spam filters. No, I’m NOT interested in barnyard babes, or helping a Nigerian Prince put millions in my bank account. Next I checked my sales status for ebooks on Amazon and Barnes and Noble—yay! another sale in the UK— then went to Flip, a central place for my Twitter, Facebook, and News. Lots of stuff about Friday the 13th.
Whoa! I’d forgotten about superstition. Is that bad luck? I’d better check. No. Phew! According the ultimate of all authorities, Wikipedia—c’mon don’t tell me you don’t use it; that’s bad luck—there is no mention of Friday the 13th being a superstition until 1869, in Henry Sutherland Edwards’ biography of Rossini.
Why is it considered unlucky? Why do so many normally rational people avoid it, even to the point of having no 13th floor in some buildings. Does naming the 13th floor the 14th take away its bad ju ju? I have this twisted fantasy that there really is no 13th floor and that it somehow resides in a time warped alter dimension. If, by some strange and fringy circumstance, someone does find the 13th floor, what does that universe look like? Is it all black cats, ladders that we have to walk under, sidewalk cracks, open umbrellas indoors, purses on the floor,and such? Is it always Friday? Maybe the 13th floor where all the superstitions go in an afterlife?
Some people think Friday, the 13th is unlucky because, in numerology, 12 is completion, endings, and many Christians believe that Jesus was crucified on a Friday. Voila! A double Whammy. There are numerous other origin suggestions but no real evidence for any of them being the start of the superstition.
Bottom line? Who knows. If people have something they can be afraid of, they will. Even if we don’t believe in superstition, most of us have a hard-wired response to them. If we walk under a ladder, there is that inner voice, picture, or feeling of uh oh! This is taboo. We may laugh it off, but there is a reaction to known superstitions. We have a visceral response.
I’m sure metaphysics has an explanation for this about us all being one and stuff. Science, I’m sure has another about the brain’s response to perceived danger. Yeah, yeah. Okay. No matter why, it’s fascinating to me that the response exists even in the face of logic. I wonder if Vulcans have superstitions. Is it bad luck to undergo Kolinar on the day of Sardoz the krumlich? Sorry, my Vulcan is rusty. And do Klingon’s think it bad luck to each Gaach (sp?) while scratching their nose?
I had never heard that it was bad luck to place one’s purse on the floor until a few years ago. I was teaching a class in, something, I don’t remember. There was a circle of chairs filled with smiling students. One woman was clutching her handbag like an L.A. senior on a city bus. I suggested that she put it on the floor under her seat. Her eyes got wide and she blurted out, “But that’s bad luck!” Some others, who did put their purses on the floor, looked at her and nodded, then looked at me as if to say, “Fool! Don’t you know that?” What could I do? I simply offered a table in the room where everyone who wanted to do so, could place their purses. About three women did. The point of this story is that from that day on, every time I put my purse on the floor, I have a visceral reaction, Baaad Luuuck! Then it passes and I do it anyway. Now, I have a new superstition I can blame all the crappy things that happen in my life on. Whatta planet. Love it or Leave it.
Remember to always Live, Love, Laugh