Friday the 13th

Today is Friday, 13 Nov 2020. For all the superstitious types out there, the thought of Friday the 13th brings fear and panic. Okay, we’re in 2020, and out of all seriousness, all of the last 312 days could be classified as Friday the 13th.

Some equate this day to the series of corny horror movies of the 1980s, showcasing a hockey-mask-laden killer, titled Friday the 13th. The whole superstition goes back much farther, as I can remember Popeye cartoons from the 40s and 50s that mentioned it. In fact, there are nineteenth-century mentions of Friday the 13th, and the surrounding superstitions.

For some strange reason, the number 13 is associated with bad luck. There is a word given to the fear of the number 13: triskaidekaphobia. In society, there is a rampant disassociation with 13. For example, most hotels do not have a thirteenth floor, nor any room ending in 13.

I guess you can chalk up some bad coincidences that happened on a Friday the 13th. For example, a cyclone struck Bangladesh on 11/13/70, killing 300,000 people. A Chilean Air Force plane disappeared in the Andes Mountains on 10/13/72. Don’t forget that Tupac Shakur was killed on 09/13/96. All these were on Fridays.

Not all is bad about this number. Back in the nineteenth century, one Captain William Fowler wanted to somehow remove the stigma around the number 13 by forming an exclusive society called The Thirteen Club. These people would dine on a 13-course dinner on the 13th day of the month in room 13 of a bar Fowler owned. At one time or another, four US presidents joined this group (Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison and Teddy Roosevelt).

Why there are superstitions is beyond me. What exactly is bad luck about the number 13, walking under a ladder, crossing paths with a black cat, spilling salt, opening an umbrella indoors or breaking a mirror? Now, if you play poker are you afraid to draw the “Dead Man’s Hand”? According to legend, Wild Bill Hickok was murdered during a poker game. There are no verified accounts of his actual hand, but the most widely recognized one is a pair of black aces and black eights, with another unknown card. Other accounts say he held 🃁🃑🂸🂨🂽. I wouldn’t care about that hand, since it’s not a very strong hand. I’ve never played table games in a casino—I have only ever tried on video poker. Even then, I’m not usually lucky at all. I have more luck at a slot machine.

Are you superstitious? Do you hate Friday the 13th? Do you carry a rabbit’s foot, throw salt over your shoulder or avoid black cats?

I could not end this post without the quote of the day:

Superstition is the need to view the world in terms of simple cause and effect.”

Bernard Beckett

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