Friday, March 13, 2015

A Friday the 13th Lesson From A Black Cat

Dear Readers:

Another Happy Friday the 13th (the second one this year!) from a black cat! I promise not to bring you bad luck for crossing your path; instead, I bring you the history of this "unlucky" day! This is a re-post from April, so if you missed it - or simply want to enjoy it again - read on!

According to National Geographic, the idea of Friday the 13th being unlucky is believed to be rooted in Norse myth. A dinner party of 12 gods and goddesses was crashed by Loki the god of mischief and chaos, which is exactly what ensued with the death of a favored goddess to follow. Thus the idea that 13 is an unlucky number, and the superstition that "13 at dinner" is an omen that one of the diners will not live out the year.

Furthering the idea that 13 at dinner is bad for your health is the Christian belief that Christ dined with his 12 apostles (setting the table for 13) right before being betrayed by Judas. Coupled with the belief that Christ was crucified the very next day - a Friday - the two events combined create the concept of Friday the 13th being an unlucky day, as is the early Christian belief that Cain killed his brother Abel on Friday the 13th. However, the idea of 13 being an unlucky number actually pre-dates Christianity. The ancient Babylonian code of law, The Code of Hammurabi, actually skips over Code #13, presumably because it is an "unlucky" number. (Some say the ill-fated Apollo 13 space mission would have fared better with a different name).

In the Middle Ages, fears of witches - and their familiarsthe black cat - were said to gather in groups of 12; should a 13th appear, it was assumed to be Satan himself.
The idea of Friday the 13th being an unlucky day did not receive wide-spread belief until the 20th century, thanks to the popular culture of the time. In 1907, a businessman and popular author of the time Thomas Lawson wrote a book called Friday the 13th, the plot of which detailed how an unethical businessman tried to crash the stock market. In 1916, the book was turned into a silent film, furthering the idea that Friday the 13th was an evil, unlucky day; and in a case of life achieving a poor imitation of art, many Wall Street traders of the time blamed the 1925 stock market crash on the fact that three Friday the 13th's occurred in that calendar year (see for yourself by clicking on the link). Nonsensical or not, the damage to Friday the 13th was done: according to Time magazine, Friday the 13th holds a record for being the least active day on the stock market and it is estimated that $700 - $800 million dollars are lost every Friday the 13th because people refuse to conduct business or travel on that day. And then, there came Jason Voorhees and his Friday the 13th horror-film's enough to give anyone triskaidekaphobia (that's a fancy word for a fear of the number 13)!

Courtesy of Time magazine, here are a few Friday the 13th superstitions for you to enjoy - or to beware of...

• If you cut your hair on Friday the 13th, someone in your family will die.
(I'm a short-haired cat, I don't need to worry about this one!)

• A child born on Friday the 13th will be unlucky for life.
(My Mommie has three cousins born on Friday the 13th, and they all seem to be doing quite well...)

• If a funeral procession passes you on Friday the 13th, you will be the next to die.
(Note to self: Avoid mousing in any cemeteries today).


Tazi the Advice-Giving Black Cat

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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