Friday, January 13, 2012
Do you have friggatriskaidekaphobia?
Yeah, I know it sounds like a cuss word and I swear that I didn't make it up...friggatriskaidekaphobia is better known as fear of Friday the 13th and from what I can tell, a lot of folks suffer from it. I was surfing around this morning and came across an article on MSN.com discussing how retailers will lose somewhere around $800 million today simply because people are so superstitious that they won't even leave the relative safety of their homes today. (Not me, I've already been to Wally World once today.)
It seems that Friday the 13th packs a double whammy in the field of superstitions. Friday has historically been considered to be the most unlucky day of the week. Ever since the publication of The Canterbury Tales in the 14th century, many travelers have considered Friday to be the worst day of the week to begin a journey. In Christian mythology, Friday has always been seen as unlucky because Jesus was crucified on a Friday.
As far as poor 13, I think it's bad reputation comes more from its proximity to 12 than to real "bad" stuff associated with the number. Twelve has a special place in terms of numerology. There are 12 months in the year, Jesus had 12 disciples, there were 12 major Greek gods, the 12 tribes of Israel- I could go on and on. Thirteen suffers simply for being the next number in line after the great and powerful twelve.
Historically Friday the 13th hasn't always been seen as a bad day. Arguably what put this particular day on the "lock yourself up in the house" map came on Friday, October 13, 1307. On that particular Friday the 13th, King Philip IV of France decided to declare war on the famed Knights Templar. Essentially Philip was jealous of the money and power wielded by the priest/warrior group. Philip planned his power bid well. He issued orders across France that all Knights Templar were to be rounded up on October 13 on charges including idolatry, homosexuality, defacing religious relics, financial corruption and secrecy. According to Philip, "God is not pleased. We have enemies of the faith in the kingdom." The coordinated arrest worked with dozens of French Templars being rounded up and confessing to the crimes- after a lot of torture. Supposedly Philip's executioners slathered the prisoners' feet with cooking grease and then put them over an open fire. Philip gained so much power from this that Pope Clement issued similar arrest orders for the rest of the Templars in Europe.
Conspiracy theorist that I am, the Templar story combined with the superstitions of Friday the 13th have made for some really interesting books to read. One interesting tome that I just finished is Steve Berry's The Templar Legacy (shown above). Thankfully for those of you who are afraid to leave home today, technology has made it where you can just download this to your Kindle and read your way through the bad day. Chin up...Saturday the 14th will be here before you know it.