By Linda F.

In our civilized and educated society, one of the most common superstitions is that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day. If Friday the 13th makes you a little nervous, you may suffer from Paraskevidekatriaphobia.

Each year there is one to three Friday the 13ths, and when the month begins with a Sunday, the second Friday is always number 13. In Greece and Spain, Tuesday the 13th is considered the unlucky date to avoid. While Japan considers 3 unlucky and 6 in Madagascar is the bad luck number. The Turks literally remove the number 13 from their vocabulary! In China, 13 is the number of obstacles, and in the ancient religion of Mexico, 13 is considered the most fortunate of numbers and symbolizes the Sun and male positive energy.

It was on Friday October 13th, 1307, King Philip IV of France (also known as "Philip the Fair"), who in desperate need of money to continue his war with the English, arrested, tortured and killed hundreds of the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, also known as the Knights Templar, in order to take their huge wealth for the French treasury which was nearly broke.

The Grand Master Jacques DeMolay was arrested and crucified, and many more fled for their lives, bringing a major shock to the society of the times. The Templars were very powerful because the Order's infrastructure innovated many financial techniques that could be considered the foundation of modern banking. The Templars had used their wealth to construct numerous fortifications throughout the Holy Land, and were probably one of the best trained and disciplined fighting units of their day. They were also famous and easily recognized by a white surcoat with distinct red cross emblazoned above the heart or on the chest, as seen in many portrayals of crusading knights.

The Templars were an unusual order in that they were both monks and soldiers, making them in effect some of the earliest "warrior monks" in the Western world. Under influence from King Philip, Pope Clement V then forcibly disbanded the order in 1314.

By itself Friday has been known to be unlucky. Friday is believed to be the day that Eve tempted Adam with the apple (Muslims tout Friday as the day Allah created Adam), Cain killed his brother Abel. They say the Great Flood began on a Friday, and so did the confusion at the Tower of Babel. It’s also well know that the crucifixion of Jesus took place on that day as well.

Some other fun facts about Friday and 13:

For the Druids, Friday is the night of the "Witch’s Sabbath".Witches are said to gather in covens of 12, the Devil was believed to be the 13th to join the gathering as well.

Thirteen was the number of guests at the last supper with Judas, who betrayed Jesus, as the last one to arrive as number thirteen.

Friday and the number 13 were once associated with capital punishment.
In England, Friday was traditionally the day for public hangings, and there were 13 steps on the gallows to climb. The noose itself had 13 knots and Hangmen were once paid the tidy sum of thirteen pence halfpenny.

The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Ashville, NC, estimates between 17 - 21 million people here in the US have some degree of fear for the Friday of the 13th

More than $800 -$900 million dollars in lost revenue occurs every Friday the 13th.

People affected by this fear refuse to fly, begin a new project, are more prone to have an accident or maybe just feel safer staying at home than even going out to shop, dine or even to work.

Some cities don’t have a 13th Street or Avenue (our brave city of Dubuque has a West & an East 13th Street!).

Italians omit the number13 from their lottery.

According to the Otis Elevator Company approximately 80% of high-rise buildings lack a thirteenth floor. Airplanes have no 13th aisle, and many hotels have no room 13.Even today with all our knowledge we tend to cling to the old beliefs, including old wives’ tales and superstitions. The latest example of the danger of number 13 is the ill-fated Apollo 13 lunar mission, aborted en route to the moon in 1970 due to a fuel cell in the service module. The flight left the launching pad at 13 minutes after the hour on April 13th. Could there be something to the old beliefs that science can’t control?

Even some ball players feel it is bad luck to play on a Friday.

A bed changed on Friday it is said will bring on bad dreams.

Never cut or start a garment on Friday unless you are sure to finish it on the same day or it will never be completed.

It’s also bad luck to clip your nails or start a new job or visit the sick on Friday.

Lloyd’s of London in the 1800’s refused to insure a ship sailing on a Friday the 13th. Many tales are of captains and their ships that left port on this Friday only never to be heard of again! The US Navy today won’t launch a ship on Friday the 13th. Many captains would invent excuses not to leave port until after midnight of the 13th - regardless of the day of the week.

In France, there were socialites (quatorziens -a.k.a. "fourteeners") that made themselves available as emergency dinner guest for parties that held 13 names so that they would be the 14th guest. For the old superstition that when there are 13 sitting down to dinner, the first one to get up from the table, would die within the year.

Some couples purposely marry on Friday the 13th just to defy the divorce ration in the US. Go figure!

Yet to our founding fathers of this great country, thirteen was powerful magic:
There were 13 original colonies.

There were 13 signers of the Declaration of Independence.

We have 13 stripes on our wonderful flag.

On the Dollar Bill (what our economy is built on): 13 steps to the pyramid 13 letters in the Latin above 13 letters in "E Pluribus Unum" 13 stars above the Eagle 13 plumes of feathers on each span of the Eagle’s wing 13 bars on the shield 13 leaves on the olive branch 13 fruits 13 arrows (may need a magnifying glass!)

And it was the 13th Amendment the Freed the Slaves.

And every happy buyer knows a baker’s dozen has 13 items not 12.
Those born on this date are very successful in scientific research and development, and they have interests in religion, philosophy and the supernatural that may bring great fame.

A few famous people that were born on Friday the 13th are:
Max Weinberg

George Lewis

Nichola Holt

Fidel Castro

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Peabo Bryson

Steve Buscemi

Steve Vickers

Darius Rucker

W O Mitchell

Jason Voorhes

T. J. Cloutier

Famous people who died on Friday the 13th:

Diamond Jim Brady

Benny Goodman

Hubert Humphrey

Tupar Shakur

On Friday, September 13th, 1939 , Igor Secorsky invented the helicopter.

It was on Friday, July 13th, 1900, Teddy Roosevelt laid the cornerstone for the new county courthouse in New York

September 13, 1814, also a Friday, Francis Scott Key wrote “the Star Spangled Banner”

Milton Hershey was born on Friday, September 13th, 1857, thus Hershey chocolate!

If you name has 13 letters in it, you share something in common with these fellows:

Jack the Ripper

Charles Manson

Jeffery Dahmer

Theodore Bundy

Albert De Salvo

Silly rituals and cures to protect ones self against Friday the 13th areWalk around your house 13 times on the Friday the 13th.
Hang your shoes out of a window of your home.

Walk around the block with a month full of water, and if you don’t swallow it - you’ll be safe on Friday the 13th!

And if all else fails - wear lots of garlic and eat it too. It will keep everyone away and just by shear dumb luck you should be safe.