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Oooeer! It's Friday the 13th
Are you afraid of the unluckiest day of the year?
Nicolas van der Leek (Nick)     Print Article 
Published 2006-10-13 13:50 (KST)   
In many cultures Friday the 13th is considered to be an unlucky day. Some believe that the origin of this belief can be traced back 699 years to this day on Friday Oct, 13 1307.

On that fateful Autumn day the king of France ordered the destruction of the Knights Templar. Hundreds were killed, arrested, imprisoned, and tortured.

Fear of the number 13, in its most extreme cases known as triskaidekaphobia, also has its origins in Christian culture. All Christians know that there were 13 diners present at the Last Supper and that one of them betrayed Jesus.

By an odd coincidence three of the most notorious murderers of all time each have 13 letters in their name: Jack the Ripper, Jeffrey Dahmer and Charles Manson.

Businesses will make less money today because some people (people like me?) are fearful of what's out there, and scared people don't spend adventurously. Some might even choose to stay in bed all day.

Okay, so what's all that got to do with little old me, and my life, here in Bloemfontein, South Africa?

Well, here's a record of what happened today.

Today everything seemed to want to go wrong. From the word go I wasn't sleeping well. I tore off the plastic cover on the mattress (probably a dumb thing to leave it on), and as I did, a ghoulish green light zipped under my fingers. I finally fell asleep, at about three in the morning. When my cellphone chirruped, I really didn't want to get up. I turned the alarm off at least three times.

But I did get up in the end. I decided, for a change, to make a fruit smoothy for breakfast and the machine wouldn't work. Is it broken? Time was ticking by... I finally figured out the plug wasn't working, but that little game made me late for work.

Cycling home -- less than a 100 meters from home -- I saw a ditch in the road. I was about to swerve slightly out, but I heard car humming beside me. For some reason I went straight over the hole, me and my bike bouncing violently. The car missed me by less than a meter. Had I swerved out, it would definitely have hit me.

An unlucky day? Perhaps. But all these things happened on the day that I'm writing this article, Thursday the 12th. And a lot of them happened because I had just moved into a new place, and wasn't that familiar with my environment. Can I expect Friday the 13th to be worse?

In a British Medical Journal article (1993) entitled "Is Friday the 13th Bad for Your Health?" it was found that transport-accident related hospital admissions of Friday the 13th were "significantly higher" than on "normal" Fridays. In fact they were higher by a staggering 52 percent.

People who consider themselves unlucky, are in my opinion, most likely to face increased risk. Why? It's because believing, in fact focusing, on bad luck tends to manifest it in some way, in your life.

That doesn't mean if you think Friday the 13th is hooey that everything's going to be fair dinkum. Remember, there are a bunch of nervous wrecks out there expecting things to happen. So a lot of those barely avoidable accidents may well happen simply because people, expecting them them to happen, also allow them to happen.

Is Friday the 13th hooey? Well, in Korea, the written number 4 is the same as the Korean character for death. As a result, in some elevators, you see floors written as follows: 1, 2 , 3, F (for four), 5, 6 etc. 444 is also an unlucky number.

In cricket, the score 111 is unlucky. Anything can be unlucky if you make up your mind about it. In the same way, you can chose arbitrary numbers to be lucky. It's a choice, but choices are influenced by what we really believe, and can't help believing.

Remember the hype about the Millenium Bug. It was also about a number -- 1999. It's just an arbitrary number. Ask a tree or a butterfly or a road what day it is, or what time, and they'll say, "listen buddy, it's day, and it's spring. Okay!"

Okay, and here's holding thumbs and touching wood that y'all will be too.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Nicolas van der Leek

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