Friday, November 13, 2009

Triscadecaphobia? I'm Afraid Not!

Greetings and salutations a grand "Happy Friday the 13th" to one and all!

I realize that for many folks today is a day of potential gloom, doom and otherwise bad things. However, for me, today is a great day as, well first of all, it's Friday and secondly and more importantly, it's one of the few times a year I get to dazzle folks with my use of the word "triscadecaphobia" (a.k.a. fear of the number 13) My favorite teacher of all time, Ms. Sterret Ann Frank, taught me this word some 22 years ago after discovering that my favorite number is, in fact, the number 13. Ever since then, whenever a Friday the 13th rolls around, I smile and think very fondly of her.

Ms. Frank passed away a few years back from Alzheimer's. She was an amazing, vivacious, tenacious and brilliant woman who became a true role model for me. So, in honor of Ms. Frank, today we shall all pause and enjoy thirteen facts about my beloved number 13...both the good and the bad:

1. On Friday, October 13, 1307 the Pope of the church in Rome in Conjunction with the King of France, carried out a secret death warrant Against "the Knights Templar".

2. Christians consider Friday as the day on which Christ was crucified by the Romans.

3. In Ancient Rome, the citizens dedicated the 6th day of the week to their beautiful Goddess Venus. Eventually this day evolved into Friday, and was considered to be the luckiest day of the week.

4. According to Norse lore, Loki was the 13th god in the Norse pantheon. 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.

5. The number 17 is apparently Italy's unlucky number, because in Roman digits 17 is written XVII, that could be rearranged to "VIXI," which in Latin means literally "I have lived" but can be a euphemism for "I am dead." Okay, so this isn't the number 13, but I just wanted to prove that not everyone hates the fear other numbers. HA!

6. It is the smallest integer with eight letters in its spelled out name in English.

7. In Hinduism, on thirteenth day of death a feast is organized. It is believed to be organized for the peace of the departed soul.

8. In Judaism, 13 signifies the age at which a boy matures and becomes a Bar Mitzvah.

9. Triskaidekaphobia, as a word, was coined in 1911.

10. Friday the 13th has been considered an unlucky day since the 1800s. Geez, you'd think we'd get over it by now though, eh?

11. Alex Rodriguez (began wearing it upon joining the New York Yankees), Dan Marino and Wilt Chamberlain all wore the number 13.

12. Colgate University also considers 13 to be a lucky number. They were founded in 1819 by 13 men with 13 dollars, 13 prayers, and 13 articles. In fact, the campus address is 13 Oak Drive in Hamilton, NY and the all men a'cappella group is called "the Colgate 13."

13. I was 13 years old when I skipped school the one and only time in my life. According to legend though, my Mother knew I wasn't there in under 13 minutes after the first period bell rang. Drat!

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