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Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Today is brought to you by the Number 13

Photobucket Of late, I have found myself checking the number of comments on my bloglets...

Not unusual, you might say. Possibly it's something we (mostly) all do.

And this is not a random piece of writing, asking for more comments, or for lurkers to de-lurk Photobucket - No, please read on!

This is actually about my relationship with the number 13. Photobucket

A tale of no importance Pictures, Images and Photos When I step over into the world of A Woman Of No Importance, to see if lovely friends have dropped by, or said something really funny, which they usually do, for they are all excellent friends, I find myself over the next day looking at how many comments have been left, and if the number is about to reach 13, I feel myself getting a little angsty...

And if the number of comments falls over into 14, having been stuck at 13 for a time, I breathe a sigh of some relief. It's crazy, non?

And yet it isn't crazy. Apparently, I'm responding to centuries of memories and conditioning, burned into my very soul, my own psyche.

I am talking about superstitions, like tossing a pinch of spilt salt from my right hand over my left shoulder, so it hits the devil that sits on the sinister side! Photobucket

...It's like avoiding walking under ladders propped precariously against any building and touching wood - Yes, I do both things, and more... I once, in my hasty teens, walked under a propped up ladder, and then something bad happened. I can't even remember what it was, so it can't have been that bad, but I've never walked under a ladder since.

Photobucket Crackers, isn't it?!

I've had to go and bow to Lady Wiki herself (and other sources) to find out more about my peculiar condition. And here we are, "Of all superstitions, perhaps the most pervasive -- and yet least explicable -- is the aversion to the number thirteen.

It's called, "Triskaidekaphobia (from Greek tris=three, kai=and, deka=ten); It is a superstition and related to a specific fear of Friday the 13th, called paraskevidekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia. (Friggin' heck!)

Many buildings (particularly hotels) tall enough to have a thirteenth floor will not number it as such. So firm is its grip upon us that even hospitals, usually bastions of rational thought, decline to label their operating theatres with the number...

Photobucket What is it about the 'devil's dozen', as it is sometimes termed in Scotland, that poses such evil portent? Photobucket

Photobucket The answer, as with so many superstitions, is biblical. Thirteen gathered in the upper room on the night of the Last Supper. 'And in the evening he cometh with the twelve. And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said,

"Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me.' (Mark 14: 17-18).

And, in terms of guilt by association, what about Friday the 13th, Photobucket ...it is a "lamentable intersection of unlucky number and dire day.
Triskaidekaphobia may have also affected the Vikings Kirk Douglas Pictures, Images and Photos —it is believed that Loki in the Norse pantheon was the 13th god. More specifically, Loki was believed to have engineered the murder of Baldr, and was the 13th guest to arrive at the funeral. This is perhaps related to the superstition that if thirteen people gather, one of them will die in the following year.

This was later Christianized in some traditions, describing Satan as the 13th angel. Another Norse tradition involves the myth of Norna-Gest: when the uninvited norns showed up at his birthday celebration—thus increasing the number of guests from ten to thirteen—the norns cursed the infant by magically binding his lifespan to that of a mystic candle they presented to him.

Photobucket A superstition existed long before the Christian era. Ancient Persians believed the twelve constellations in the Zodiac controlled the months of the year, and each ruled the earth for a thousand years at the end of which the sky and earth collapsed in chaos. Therefore, the thirteenth is identified with chaos and the reason Persians leave their houses to avoid bad luck on the thirteenth day of the Persian Calendar (a tradition called Sizdah Bedar).

'And on a Friday fil al this meschaunce,' wrote Chaucer in 'The Nun's Priest's Tale'.

Photobucket The superstitions surrounding this fateful day -- particularly Good Fridays -- are numerous: a child born on Friday is doomed to misfortune; do not feed anyone butter churned or eggs laid that day. Courting, and especially marriage, on Friday is a folly. Do not move to a new home or new job on that fateful day; do not rise from an illness; and please, please do not take a journey -- for as the fishermen say, 'Friday's sail, always fail."

(Adapted from NARROW HOUSES, Douglas E. Winter)".

However, the number 13 is not uniformly bad. For example, the 13 attributes of God (also called the thirteen attributes of mercy) are enumerated in the Torah (Exodus 34: 6-7).

And, this tradition or superstition does not hold in some other cultures, e.g. in Romanian, Greek and Spanish cultures, Tuesday the 13th is considered unlucky".

And did you know,

Photobucket Industrialist Henry Ford wouldn't do business on Friday, the 13th.

Multimillionaire Paul Getty stated, "I wouldn't care to be one of thirteen at a table."

President Roosevelt would not dine in a group of 13 people.

Many hotel guests refuse to stay in Room 13, so rooms are frequently numbered 12, 12A, and 14.

Most architects have the humility by bypass the thirteenth floor of most buildings,

On April 13 1970, NASA launched Apollo 13 at 1313 hours central time. An oxygen tank exploded and if you've seen the movie, you know the rest. NASA was also forced to abort a launch in November 1981 scheduled for Friday the 13th due to a glitsch in the fuel cells.

The ancient Hebrews thought 13 was unlucky because the thirteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is the letter M, which is the first letter in the word "mavet," meaning death.

Years ago, London bakers were subject to harsh penalties if they were caught selling bread in what was called short weight. The bakers would add an extra loaf to each dozen to be sure the sale met the minimum weight requirement. They process of adding an extra loaf became known as the "baker's dozen."


So, there you have it, while Friday began as a good day, often a sacred day, our love became despoiled, and now the day brings unlucky portents.


So too the number 13!

So, if perchance you stop by, and the comments are set at 13, please feel free even just to leave your name - A calling card, if you like... Anything to stop me comments sticking at 13. It's doing me head in, honestly, and I wouldn't even call myself superstitious!

We all need a little bit of good luck from time to time, non?!



Diane said...

My friend Z (Protege) cannot be the 13th commentor (commenter?)... if she is, she must leave another comment, so she can be 14th, too :). I'm not sure it negates being the 13th, but it works for her.

My mother is terribly superstitious and though I don't really believe them myself, I do touch wood... I don't put new shoes on the table... I wouldn't open an umbrella in the house. Though I don't think I'm terribly obvious about it, I wonder if I'll see Ryan doing the same as she gets older.

GB said...

What an interesting post. I shall definitely be back for more. Of course being a completely rational male (no comments about oxymorons please) I have no belief in such superstitions. And, touch wood, I shall remain of such a persuasion.

Henry the Dog said...

Very interesting. On 13th April 2005 my mum was told that the lump in her breast was benign. She was truly relieved because the history of cancer in her family is rather high. She had lots of benign lumps after that. On January 13th 2009 the plane she was flying in had engine failure and she ended up in an emergency landing. She's still here to tell the tale. Is that bad luck, or good luck?????

Working mum said...

I never believed in the superstition about 13, however, I have tried twice now to record the entire series of Little Dorrit (once on BBC1 and once on BBC4) and each time it has failed to record episode 13. Is there something in that?

Dumdad said...

In some countries, I believe, 13 is lucky.

Triskaidekaphobia - what a lovely word!

Incidentally, I thought the photo of Kirk Douglas with the Vikings was a nice touch. The Vikings is one of those good bad movies. Tony Curtis with his Brooklyn accent - and after his hand is cut off his stump is actually very slightly longer than the other arm!

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

Really interesting Fhina!

I think we all have 'lucky' numbers, special dates etc....I know I do, I don't avoid 13 well not obviously so....but I usually notice it and wonder...

Thank you for popping round and leaving such lovely comments...again!!

How are you feeling today??


Michelle said...

WOW this is a thought provoking post!!! So one thing i noticed is that

The ancient Hebrews thought 13 was unlucky because the thirteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is the letter M, which is the first letter in the word "mavet," meaning death.

My name begins with the letter M!! Ummm, so shall i obsess over this?? NAH!! :O)

But this is all so very interesting to me. I am not superstitious at all. In fact, i giggled at friggatriskaidekaphobia. I do not know why i giggled.

I am not making light of this post at all. I am making light of myself!!!!

How are you feeling girlie???

auntiegwen said...

hello my lovely,

want to play with your auntie ?

Ok ?

Tag, you're it (all explained at my house)

Kate Coveny Hood said...

You're so funny! I never think about unlucky numbers. But I suppose I'm superstitious about other things. Who isn't?

Scriptor Senex said...

Hands up those who scrolled down to see what number their comment would be before reading the rest of the blog? Creeping towards 13...


Oh, I was so tempted to give you three different comments just so I could become No 13. But I resisted the temptation which was very hard for me to do :) Oh, I came here from my fellow rebel the Scottish Auntiegwen. TF

david mcmahon said...

Lucky I'm the 12th person to comment and not the 13th!

Rab said...

Alas, it seems I am number 13. But I resolved long ago to make 13 my luck number and to heck with centuries of superstition. I hope you too can resolve your conflict with this most misunderstood of numbers.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Rab, you are so right, and yet, you see - I cannot prevent myself from tipping the scales in to number 14!

I shall respond to everyone else tomorrow - Hope that's okay? (UK time) - for I really ought to be slipping down into the arms of Morpheus right now - I just can't help myself, twittering on!

Clippy Mat said...

just came by to be number 14 and so to stop you hyperventilating at the thought of 13 commenters hahaha.
i agree with commenter #13, Rab. think of it as a lucky number and this is what will happen.
(i think!)

La Belette Rouge said...

I don't believe in luck coming from an outside agent and yet I am strangely superstitious about having a #13 when I make a list. I know it isn't really an unlucky number and yet every time I get to 13 I skip it and go from 12 right to 14. I think your post may have cured me of that silliness.

French Fancy said...

I'll keep a watch on your blog comments in future and try and help you avoid the problem. As for me - I never think about superstitions. Some of them do make me laugh though - I had a boss once who shouted at me for putting some new shoes I was showing him on to his desk.I don't know why that should be unlucky.

Derrick said...

Hello Fhina,

Plenty of comments here, so now worries today! I've no idea why we ended up with many of our superstitions. Not walking under ladders though seems eminently sensible because something might get dropped on your head or you might tip the ladder, which would be unlucky for the poor soul at the top!

As they say 'up here', dunnae fass yersel' hen!

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Diane: Funny you should say that about Z, such a spiritual person - I do think some of these superstitions are ingrained, in spite of our better judgements - As well as the shoes not on tables (signifying a death - I guess from the days of laying folk out on tables), my mother would not have anything with birds on it in the house - I don't follow with that one, 'though... Touch wood! xox

GB: Oxymoron? I sense a blogpost coming on!

Henry the Dog: I strongly feel there are some things we cannot easily explain away with science - And all your loyal and faithful readers are very pleased to treasure your mum still guiding your paw to write those funny blogs, in spite of those infernal flying machines! I think your mini-schnauzer paws must bring her luck, like a lucky rabbit's foot?! xxx

Working mum: I wouldn't even like to think about that one - spooky - Little Dorrit was fab tho', so I hope you get to see Ep 13 (eek, Ep 12a) soon! x

Dumdad: This is very true, Sir - I could have added in more, but sometimes my posts can be a little too long for folk to stomach - Wiki describes how 13 is lucky in some cultures, and in China, the number 8 is believed to be lucky, I think... Interesting, if mad, stuff, non?

The language is wonderful is it not, and I am so pleased you got the Kirk Douglas reference - I shall look out for that filming gaffe next time I air the movie - You've got to love anything with Tony Curtis and KD in it - There's a law!

Fat, frumpy and fifty: Saz, to be honest, I do try to see 13 as not unlucky, if you know what I mean - And numerology has it that it isn't unlucky, because 1 + 3 = 4 and that's a lucky number - Oh, I sense my readership ebbing away at TMI, and all my olde worlde madness! xxoxx I am far better, thank you, having given up virtually everything I enjoy - for the present!

Michelle: Bless you for liking this little part of Fhina's world of madness! The Beatles sang, Michele, ma belle... and that can only be a good and lucky thing, in my book! ;) Obsess not, but tittering is fine!

Auntiegwen: Hello sweetie, thank you for offering me something to twitter about today - Much love x

Kate Coveny Hood: Glad to have made you smile, for it was my intention!

Scriptor Senex: You are a very astute and wise (but not ancien...) man!

TOM FOOLERY: Welcome in, hen, the more the merrier!

david mcmahon: LOL - I don't like using overused abbreviations, but oh well!

Rab: You are Clay, no?! :0

Lady Clippy Mat: Bless you! If I keep taking the tablets, I know I will get better each day!

La Belette Rouge: And this coming from such a wise and lovely weasel - Do you have any thoughts on fate as an outside agent, per se? I do write lists and I don't personally balk about writing number 13... Superstitions are silliness, I agree, and I fought them for many years, hence walking under ladders, and I do not avoid cracks in pavements - I used to rail against my mum for her foibles, but I seem to have 'picked up' so many of them by osmosis! x

French Fancy: Thank you for watching over me like some sweet, fondant Ange Guardien - if that makes sense - which I don't do often! ;)

Derrick: I know only too well I just need to 'get a grip' in all senses of the word! We would say, "Get a haad of mesel', man!"

Sometimes Sophia said...

Fascinating post. Senor's favorite number is 13. Your posts are very impressive. A lot of work... our good fortune!!

Sandi McBride said...

Funny, up til now I had no aversion to the number 13 in fact love the Bakers Dozen if it's connected to doughnuts...but that's a cop thing, I guess lol...wonderful post, as usual. Your attention to detail is fascinating. Congratulations on the Post of the Day comment...you earned it!

Something I wrote earlier...

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