After a little more than a year of my blogging journey, as I migrate from a shared blogging space to my own website, I was absolutely sure that I need to start it with humour and satire, a liberal take on the true and honest me, that has always been my forte.
But still, as I sit down to write this today morning, a chilling fear envelops me. Is today the right day to write this, for this day had always been feared for its notoriety. Today is Friday, the 13th.
I had always wondered what would be the real reason for the fear of this day. The more I try to find out, the more intrigued I am since I end up being convinced that there is no plausible reasoning. Perhaps, these 13 facts will help throw some light on the darkness surrounding this haunted day.
- The fear is unreal:
Is just one scientific name not enough to describe this fear? The scientific term used to describe it is called FRIGGATRISKAIDEKAPHOBIA or PARASKEVIDEKATRIAPHOBIA. Absolute tongue twisters, this fear is as impossible as not being able to say these words 13 times really fast.
Just for records, Triskaideka means 13 in Greek and Phobia means Fear, whereas Praskevi translates as Friday and Dekatria is another way of saying 13. Frigg is the Norse Goddess of wisdom after whom Friday is named, and I sincerely hope that some wisdom dawns upon us too.
- The fear is unclear:
Though widely believed, hardly anything is known about the origins of this notorious belief. Historians themselves dispute whether it was the biography of Italian composer Gioachino Rossini who died on a Friday, 13th in the 19th Century or the 1907 book by American businessman Thomas Lawson, which may have perpetuated this superstition.
While some associate the day with the misfortune in 1307, when on a Friday, the 13th, the French King gave the orders to arrest hundreds of Knights Templars, the military order of the Catholic Church, others believe the myth may have Biblical origins too, Jesus having been crucified on a Friday and there were 13 guests at the Last Supper the night before his crucifixion. Need I even mention that the infamous Judas was the 13th guest?
- The fear is so common:
Research has proved that Friggatriskaidekaphobia has resulted in severe losses to businesses especially airlines on Friday the 13th.
The fear of the number 13, or Triskaidekaphobia is even more common with many buildings skipping the 13th floor and airports not having gates numbered 13 and even having 13 people at a dinner table is considered back luck.
Mark Twain was allegedly once invited to be the 13th guest at a dinner party. As the story goes, he went to the dinner despite a superstitious friend’s warning and he reportedly had to return back hungry as they had food only for 12.
- The fear can haunt you in threes:
A bad news for all those who live in fear is that all years will have at least one Friday the 13th and some years can have even up to three such Fridays.
The good news is that there can be no more than three Friday the 13th in any year and the longest you can go without encountering such a day is 14 months.
- The fear can repeat in patterns:
There is surely a calendric pattern to this madness of Friday the 13th. Any year which starts on a Thursday will have one Friday the 13th falling in the months of February, March and November.
And beware; this pattern is going to repeat 11 times in this 21st Century.
- The fear strikes in leap years too:
If you have ever thought that a day less in a year can save you from the haunt of Friday the 13th, you are absolutely mistaken, because it can happen in a leap year and that too even thrice.
If the January 1st of a leap year happens to be a Sunday, then the months of January, April and July will have a Friday the 13th each.
- The fear haunts outer space too:
When the asteroid 99942 Apophis was discovered in 2004, it was thought to have a small chance of colliding with Earth.
Scientists have surely revised their findings since then and have concluded that on Friday the 13th, 2029 to be precise; it will fly close enough to the Earth to be visible without a telescope in Africa, Europe and Asia. So there is absolutely no risk of the asteroid impacting the Earth or the Earthlings.
- The fear inspires highest grossing films:
The notoriety of this day has been the story for the commercially successful Friday the 13th franchise which includes 12 horror movies, a television series and several books on this subject.
The mask worn in the movies by Jason Voorhees, the key character still remains the most known images in popular culture.
- The fear is entertaining:
Backed by the commercial success of the earlier 12 films, Paramount Pictures is developing the 13th film in the series promising a release in 2017.
While CW network is producing a TV series inspired by the movies, a video game by the same name is being developed funded via Kickstarter.
- The fear carries from cradle to the grave:
Several celebrities were born on Friday the 13th including actors Mary-Kate and Ashley Oslen, playwright Samuel Beckett and former President of Cuba Fidel Castro, while Rapper Tupac Shakur and the Latin composer Gioachino Rossini and even the notorious serial killer Christopher Wilder died on this day.
- The fear gives birth to suspense:
Isn’t is absolutely fitting that the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock who was born on 13th August, 1899 would have celebrated his 100th birthday on 13th August, 1999, a Friday, had he been alive.
Ironically, Hitchcock made his directorial debut in 1922 with a movie called Number 13.
- The fear may make the sky fall:
You don’t have to stare at me for this but some scientists do believe that the sky is set to fall on a Friday morning.
They have concluded that a batch of some space junks is expected to fall in Sri Lanka, which according to the CBC has prompted the Government to institute a no-fly zone in the potential landing area.
- Blame Sunday for the fear:
Sunday is considered as a very auspicious day, whether as the day of the Sabbath as per the earliest Jewish belief or the day of the Sun God as per Hinduism or the day of the resurrection of the Lord as per Christianity.
But when it comes to Friday the 13th, we need to blame Sunday for the mischief. Every month which begins on a Sunday will surely have a Friday the 13th.
Sceptics like me would surely brush off the day’s notoriety to folk lore and stories like The Da Vinci Code which gives reference to the arrest of hundreds of the Knights Templar by King Philip IV’s army in France on 13th October, 1307, a Friday.
There may be a few coincidental pieces of historical evidence which may prompt us to believe that it’s a date that inspires dread when it’s seen looming ahead in the calendars.
For me it is just a simple mixture of two widely held superstitions that Friday is an unlucky day and 13th is the unluckiest number. And if it’s just that, what’s this frigging fear all about Friday the 13th?