Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday the thirteenth

Yes the inevitable calendar turning has once again thrown up this particular combination and of course GMTV have to do a quick report on it. Now as I've mentioned before in another entry of identical title

I'm not superstitious, I don't throw salt, cross my fingers or care about black cats. I don't walk under ladders, but that's due to an aversion of having things dropped on my head. I also don't appeal to the nature spirits by 'touching wood'.
So listening to people talking about magpies (well magpie to be exact) and such stuff always amuses especially when not one person doing the questioning asks 'So why don't you like [superstition]?' possibly though that's due to the answer most likely given being 'Because it's bad luck'. Of course a serious questioner would then follow up with 'Why's that?' At which point the full show of ignorance is displayed.

So why is Friday the thirteenth supposed to be unlucky, well the majority opinion is that Friday is considered unlucky and the number 13 is considered unlucky so conjoining the two makes it doubly unlucky. Of course this just pushes the question back to why is Friday and 13 considered unlucky in the first place?

The answer to both is simple - we don't really know. Oh sure on the 13 front you can point to the 12 stages of Ancient Egyptian with the 13th being death and it's links to Tarot. You can turn to the Norse legends of the thirteenth guest and tie those in to the Christian Last Supper. Heck you can even try to say that 13 is unlucky because we can count to 10+2 feet though if you know anything about the various counting systems in place around the world you can put that one down as wishful thinking (or bullshit if you prefer) , but bluntly it's considered unlucky because... it's always been unlucky; it's a meme, it's traditionally unlucky and thus requires no reason to define it.

Gotta love those irrational fears our species seems to infect itself with :-P Ah okay that's a little unfair we're pattern seekers. So if we're told that Friday the thirteenth is unlucky and OMG something bad just happened on that date (such as one's clutch snapping) we note the 'connection' between the supposedly unlucky day and the unlucky event. If it had happened the day before or after no such connection is made because we haven't been primed to see one. Of course if something bad always happens to you on a Wednesday you might start to spot the connection, but if such an event happens every Wednesday the eighth would you notice?

Perhaps the internet community should start a Lucky Day meme hmm I like the connotations of Wednesday with Woden and Mercury and thanks to the HSBC adverts we all know 8 is considered lucky in some countries so there we go spread the word Wednesday the eight is Lucky Day; the next one is in October.


Anonymous said...

You fail to mention that Friday is the day of the crucifixion, and that 13 is the number of people at the Last Supper. I have heard this explanation of the significance from more than one place.

Anonymous said...

No, not Wednesday 8. It should be Saturday 7 because '7' is a Western lucky number and Saturday is the 7th day if you're not Christian and you count each week from Sunday.

Besides after the lucky day on the 7th you have six days until your luck runs out (Friday 13). Its the pleasure-pain effect.

Now you are thinking aren’t you, what happened last Saturday that was luck for me. _ got yah'

FlipC said...

@Dan: "You can turn to the Norse legends of the thirteenth guest and tie those in to the Christian Last Supper."

I didn't delve into the reasons for Friday being unlucky because they all smacked of retcon'ing, well had a greater feel of retcon then the 13 principle anyway :-P

@Tav: Ah but choosing a Saturday would clash with the Jewish Sabbath so I'll stick with Wednesday because of the Woden (Chief God) and Mercury (Nutter) connection, but sure the 7th sounds okay we had one just in May and the next is in January. So what lucky thing happened last month ;-)