You might consider yourself a very rational person, but then something as simple as a calendar date or a number makes you feel differently about things. You might think twice about boarding a plane on Friday 13th or taking a flight number 13. I once worked with a fella who was so superstitious he stayed in bed all day…apart from a quick dash to the loo for a pee. Every Friday 13th, I think of Roger; wondering if (a) he’s still alive and (b) if he is (alive) would he be in his pj’s snugly tucked up under the duvet covers. Probably!
I avoid walking beneath ladders whatever the date. Simply because I would feel stupid if a pot of paint fell on my head. Or worse, if heavy scaffolding knocked me out cold on the pavement. Otherwise, no I’m not at all superstitious.
Some people, like my work colleague of yonks ago, Roger, are really scared of the date. He booked every Friday 13th off as holiday in the Office Diary. We were all – well some of us more than others – (well, yes moi especially) made many attempts to book the 13th off before Roger could get his hands on the new diary. You guessed it, it was never going to happen! We (I) tried ringing him on his house phone in an attempt to get him out of bed to answer it. No chance of that either. He confessed once that he always pulled the phone cord from its socket just to make certain it didn’t ring downstairs in his hallway. Had it all covered, did our Roger. A pinned notice on his front door ensured parcels were redelivered the next day.
Such fear has a rather long name: ‘Paraskavedekatriaphobia’ now try and pronounce that after a couple of G & T’s.
Why are we so scared of it?
‘Tis said that the fear is likely rooted to Christianity. Jesus was crucified on the cross on a Friday 13th and ever since, the day has been associated with ‘general ill omen,’ according to Michael Bailey, a history professor at Iowa State University who specialises in the origins of superstitions.
Weddings in the Middle Ages, for instance, were not held on Fridays and it was not a day someone would start a journey. Thinking about that for a moment, I always liked to travel midweek on a Wednesday. Maybe I have hidden superstitions, after all.
Thirteen guests are believed to have attended the Last Supper, the night before Jesus was killed. And, Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, is considered to have been the 13th guest.
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