Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tuesday the 13th

 id=Triskaidekaphobia is the fear - rational or otherwise - of the number 13. Since one would be hard-pressed to think of how an aversion to something as innocuous as a number could possibly be rational - although the crew of Apollo 13 might beg to differ - then it is tempting to dismiss it as an irrational phobia. Or a superstition. But apparently there are over 67 million pinheads sufferers who are afflicted with this very fear. Not that that makes it rational. I'm just saying. Sixty-seven million is probably an unlucky number too.

I am not superstitious. I have stepped on so many sidewalk cracks and, consequently, broken my mother's back so many times that it is nothing short of a miracle that she doesn't have to resort to cleverly positioned mirrors suspended over the hospital bed in which she should, by rights, be confined in order to see us. Not that she would want to see me since I'm the one who broke her back in the first place.

But as it happens, today is martes trece, Tuesday the 13th. Tuesday, you ask. Why Tuesday? It would seem that unlike, say, 99% of the superstition-riddled world, Spain doesn't hold truck with Friday the 13th being an unlucky day. That's just plain silly. No, in Spain (and in Greece and Romania) it is Tuesday the 13th which is so clearly unpropitious. Or, more importantly, today.

There is a whole host of theories as to why the number 13 has been deemed ill-fated: Christians point j'accuse-ing fingers at Jesus' original headcount of apostles and the number invited to dine at the Last Supper. Earlier, Caesar crossed his Rubicon - or more accurately - the Rubicon with the 13th Legion which effectively put Rome in a state of civil war and annoyed a great many people. Still others cite older examples, including the absence of a 13th law in Hammurabi's Code, but that may have been an 18th century b.c.e. typo. A slip of the chisel. I hear that basalt is difficult to work with.

As a lunar year has 13 months, some argue that the number is evocative of mother goddess cults, and therefore became a vilified number - at least by the intolerant burgeoning Catholic Church. Architect Charles Platt postulated the theory that 13 is considered unlucky because we can count from 1-12 with our 8 fingers, 2 thumbs and 2 feet, but not beyond that. This is a fine theory if you're a 2-toed sloth. Since I am not and I like to include my toes when I count, I think we can dismiss that one too.

I might add that 13 is considered a lucky number by the Chinese but until they stop skinning still-living, fully conscious dogs and cats for their fur, I am going to ignore them. Thirteen is also a fortunate number for both Sikhs and Jews (children are bar or bat mitzvah-ed at 13) and because they don't milk bears for their bile unlike the Chinese, I am willing to give their beliefs some credence.

And Friday? The fact that Christ was crucified on a Friday is irrelevant. For those who hold with this theory I would add that he rose again 3 days later, so how unlucky was it? If anything, it was more of an inconvenience - a necessary evil, as it were. Of course anyone worth their salt knows that Friday the 13th entered the annals of history as an unlucky number because the Knights Templar were arrested en masse on Friday October 13, 1307. I mean, duhhhh.

And why Tuesday? I asked that very question to about a dozen (okay, 13) students today and I received about as many different answers. Some suggested that the day's association with Mars, the god of war, made it particularly malevolent, others that it was the day that Adam ate the apple, but most shrugged their shoulders and conceded that they had no idea. Some admitted that, as residents of The Global Village - which may or may not be the same thing as the European Union - they considered both Tuesday and Friday the 13th as inauspicious days.

All I know is that today has been a particularly shitty day. One of those days that began when the alarm went off 3 hours early (although it was actually on time) to this very moment as I realize that my tea has been steeping for 55 minutes on my kitchen counter. With a whole lot of shitty things in the middle, not the least of which was the fact that I broke not one but two fingernails today. But I'm not superstitious. Ask my mother. Ask her how her back is.


Me and my camera said...

Your tea has been steeping for 55 minutes?

What, is Nanny coming to visit?


Me and my camera said...

By the way, ya gotta love the Knights Templar. IIRC, they were arrested on charges of, among other things, blasphemy and committing homosexual acts. The allegations were that during their initiation ceremony, they all had to kiss the Head Knight (or whoever) on the mouth, then utter blasphemous statements out loud.

Clever Knights:

They never denied those allegations. In fact, they admitted to doing them!

They claimed that they were merely preparing for the possibility of capture by the Godless Moors (as you know, the Knights Templar guarded a temple in Jerusalem by Papal Decree). They were only getting themselves used to being forced on pain of death to commit such horrendous acts at the hands of their captors.

I believe they won their case, but it was rather moot, as they'd already been disbanded and most of them had committed suicide or been murdered by the time the trial was held years after the charges were laid.

Of course, I could be wrong...

Myrtus said...

Yep, the Spaniards can be strange with certain things. Tuesday the 13th was my daughter's birthday. I never had a lucky number till she was born. Two months after she was born I went out with my younger sister, we decided to go to the casino in Amsterdam and play French roulette. I won 3 times in a row on number 13 and I was hooked on 13 ever since. (: