The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

September 12, 2013

It’s Friday the 13th, that day many people dread

By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Don’t get out of bed today, just roll over, pull the covers over your head and stay in your jammies all day, playing “Candy Crush Saga” on your phone.

It’s that day again. It is the 13th day of the month. And it is Friday.

Eek.

Bad things happen on Friday the 13th. Terrible things. Awful things. At least so I’m told. Nothing bad has ever happened to me on Friday the 13th. Not yet, anyway.

We fear Friday the 13th. Why? Largely because we’ve been taught to.

According to National Geographic, that fear stems from the fact Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th guest at the Last Supper, and Jesus was crucified on a Friday.

Don’t buy that? OK, how about this. There is a Norse myth that there were 12 gods having a dinner party at Valhalla, Norse mythology’s version of heaven.

Suddenly an uninvited guest appeared, the mischievous god Loki.

After he arrived, Loki arranged for Hoder, the blind god of darkness, to shoot Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with an arrow tipped with mistletoe.

Balder died and the Earth went dark. Bummer.

Then there is the old story from ancient Rome that witches reportedly gathered in groups of 12. If a 13th joined them, that was believed to be the devil.

There are 13 twists of the rope in a traditional hangman’s noose and 13 steps leading to the gallows.

In 1993, a study published in the British Medical Journal asked the question, “Is Friday the 13th Bad for Your Health?” The conclusion? Yes, sort of. The study found that while there was less traffic on British roads on Friday the 13th, there was a higher incidence of traffic accidents.

“Friday the 13th is unlucky for some,” the report concluded.

The risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52 percent. Staying at home is recommended.” See?

Thirteen is not a popular number. Twelve is a complete number, according to numerologists.

There are 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 inches in a foot, 12 doughnuts in a dozen, 12 cranial nerves in the human brain, 12 pence in a shilling, 12 face cards in a deck and 12 ounces in a troy pound.

Thirteen? Forget it. It is bad news. About 80 percent of high-rise buildings do not have a 13th floor. Many hospitals and hotels have no room 13, and most airports don’t have a gate 13.

In Florence, Italy, the houses between No. 12 and No. 14 have an address of 121⁄2.

In France, there used to be a group known as the quatorziens (fourteeners) who would make themselves available to keep dinner parties from featuring an unlucky 13 guests.

Except for the folks at Colgate University.

The Hamilton, N.Y., school was founded in 1819 by 13 men with 13 prayers and 13 articles. Colgate is located at 13 Oak Drive, with a ZIP Code of 13346. Take away the 13, and the final three numbers add up to, you guessed it, 13.

Besides people at Colgate, nobody else seems to be particularly enamored by Friday the 13th.

Many people refuse to fly, to buy stock or to buy a house on Friday the 13th.

Historian Donald Dossey told National Geographic somewhere between $800 million and $900 million is lost in productivity every Friday the 13th because people refuse to conduct normal business on this abnormal day.

This is the first Friday the 13th of this year, but not the last.

The next will be in December, but by that time we’ll be so worried about Christmas shopping we won’t even notice.

Oh, by the way, the next Friday the 13th is 13 weeks from today.

And, of course, the year is 2013, which figures to make this year’s Friday the 13ths even unluckier.

All of which is just silly superstition, of course. Friday the 13th is no different, in truth, than any other Friday.

Heck, it’s Friday, how bad can it be?

Then there’s that silly belief about people having 13 letters in their name having the devil’s luck, people like Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy, Charles Manson, Jack the Ripper and Albert De Salvo (the Boston Strangler).

How many letters in my name? Let me count ... one, two, three ...

Oh, no. Has anybody got a rabbit’s foot or four-leaf clover I can borrow?



Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.