© 2015 Kebba Buckley Button, MS, OM. World Rights Reserved.
When Friday the 13th rolls around, how do you feel? Do you think it’s unlucky? When I was a kid, the other kids worried that bad things would happen on Friday the 13th. I didn’t get it. My birthday is October 13th. So I told the other kids I was born on a Friday, and nothing bad had happened! That was my little anti-superstition campaign. Actually, I knew I was born on a Monday. But really, how could a day be bad luck? Yet many people I asked were convinced there was something dark or unlucky, or both, about any 13th of the month that fell on a Friday. It was best to be cautious all day, on Friday the 13th. Hmmm.
I began to think about the number 13. People didn’t like it. As a teen, when I was in tall buildings, I noticed none of the buildings had a 13th floor. Even the elevator button for 13 was always missing. I began to crave an apartment on the 13th floor.
Thirteen turned out to be a pleasant number, in bakeries. If you bought a dozen of something, they gave you a 13th thirteenth one free; I have no explanation for this yet. It’s called “a baker’s dozen”. There are thirteen moon cycles in a year, and some cultures have loved the number. Various peoples have honored the number 13 in different ways. The Aztecs used a 13-day week, and the 13th day was ruled by a god named Tezcatlipoca, who represented mystery and magic. The Greeks held the number 13 to be powerful, as Zeus was the 13th and most powerful of their Gods. In Tarot cards, the Death card is associated with the number 13, plus the qualities of transition, change, new beginnings, and inevitability. By the time I was in college, I decided, whenever the subject of 13s came up, I would call 13 my lucky number.
A friend told the blonde: “Christmas is on a Friday this year.”
The blonde replied, “Let’s hope it’s not the 13th!”
In the Christian tradition, a negative belief about the number 13 goes back at least to the Last Supper. Twelve apostles dined with Jesus, so there were 13 diners. The first one to leave, Judas, became also the first one to die. In France, today, when there are 13 dinner guests, some make an effort to get a 14th, a quatorzieme, to keep the event from being unlucky.
But here is the cultural memory that may be the major source for the negative rep for Friday the 13th: it’s the anniversary of the day the Knights Templar were murdered, all across Europe, about 700 years ago. On Friday, October 13th, 1307, the Knights Templar were officially banned in Europe. Many hundreds were violently killed or tortured to death during the campaign to eliminate the Templars. In France, the Grand Master of the Spiritual Order of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay, and his successor, were burned to death on Friday, March 13th, 1314. This took place below the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris, where, today, a plaque commemorates the event. No doubt anyone with any exposure to the persecution of the Templars would have terrible memories of Fridays the 13th, and their stories of those horrors would have persisted for generations. A few hundred years later, largely only the fear remains.
So let’s live light and just chuckle when we see the number 13. Let’s take that extra bagel or donut or roll, when it’s offered. And on Friday the 13th, let’s smile and know that we can choose to have a great day. Now that’s Upbeat Living! Are you in?
- Kebba Buckley Button is a stress management expert and award-winning author. She also is an ordained minister and has a natural healing practice. Among her books are: Discover The Secret Energized You (http://tinyurl.com/b44v3br),and Peace Within: Your Peaceful Inner Core, Second Edition(http://tinyurl.com/mqg3uvc ). Her newest book is Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine, available through her office. Just email SacredMeditation@kebba.com.
- Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.