HAPPY FRIDAY! (-the-13th)

While I dare NOT make any direct tie-ins to the American Red Cross and this ominously-associated date, I think it’s an appropriate topic for today’s blog.

In a year where we need all the luck we can get, we have three Friday-the-13ths, the most possible in a twelve-month period. Could this be a sign of things to come…? I resisted blogging about this in February’s Friday-the-13th edition, but we have to face our fears and address this most despicable of days (OK, maybe it’s not that bad).

While there are some of us who do take this date very seriously, most have at least a light trepidation, or a healthy fear, with their own theories of the legend’s origins. Let’s take a look at some theories and you can make up your own minds:

According to Wikipedia – The actual origin of the superstition appears to be a tale in Norse mythology. When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga (the source of the name Friday and the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility) was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil – a gathering of thirteen – and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week. For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was known as “Witches’ Sabbath.”

Another theory about the origin of the superstition traces the event to the arrest of the legendary Knights Templar. According to one expert: The Knights Templar were a monastic military order founded in Jerusalem in 1118 C.E., whose mission was to protect Christian pilgrims during the Crusades. Over the next two centuries, the Knights Templar became extraordinarily powerful and wealthy. Threatened by that power and eager to acquire their wealth, King Philip secretly ordered the mass arrest of all the Knights Templar in France on Friday, October 13, 1307 – Friday-the-13th.

MSNBC offers a lighter side of this legend, with five of the favorite Friday-the-13th facts:

1. Fear of Friday-the-13th — one of the most popular myths in science — is called paraskavedekatriaphobia as well as friggatriskaidekaphobia. Triskaidekaphobia is fear of the number 13.

2. Many hospitals have no room 13, while some tall buildings skip the 13th floor and some airline terminals omit Gate 13.

3. President Franklin D. Roosevelt would not travel on the 13th day of any month and would never host 13 guests at a meal. Napoleon and President Herbert Hoover were also triskaidekaphobic, with an abnormal fear of the number 13.

4. Mark Twain once was the 13th guest at a dinner party. A friend warned him not to go. “It was bad luck,” Twain later told the friend. “They only had food for 12.” Superstitious diners in Paris can hire a quatorzieme, or professional 14th guest.

5. The number 13 suffers from its position after 12, according to numerologists who consider the latter to be a complete number — 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Jesus, 12 days of Christmas and 12 eggs in a dozen.

A seemingly odd, but quite obvious coincidence (once you think about it) about Friday-the-13th is that they are among the safest days of the year. Fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday than on other Fridays, because people are preventatively more careful or just stay home.

Hence, I can finally tie a purportedly unsafe day superstition back into the mission of a very safety-conscious and support-oriented organization and wish you all a very safe, uneventful, and HAPPY FRIDAY! (-the-13th).

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