Why do some superstitions linger, from fear of black cats to Friday the 13th or Martes 13?
Why do some superstitions linger, from fear of black cats to Friday the 13th or Martes 13?

QCOSTARICA from the Macaroni Journal – Today is Friday the 13th. But if you are in Costa Rica (or anywhere else in Latin America), the cultural belief gloom and doom is not today, but, rather, on Tuesday the 13th (Martes 13, dia de la mala suerte).

In Italy the equivalent of Friday the 13th or Martes 13 is Friday the 17th. When 17 is viewed as the Roman numeral, XVII, an anagram or letter rearrangement spells out VIXI, which in Latin means I have lived in other words, My life is over or I’m dead. In China, Japan, Korea the number 4 is associated with death.

It is curious that this “bad luck day” superstition changes depending on the country.

The phobia to the number 13 is called Triskaidekaphobia (or in Spanish Triscaidecafobia). Here are some of the legends that have contributed to the myth of the unlucky number 13:

1. 13 people were present in the Last Supper that resulted in the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

2. In the Kabbalah, 13 evil spirits are mentioned.

3. The Antichrist is mention in Chapter 13 of the Apocalypse.

4. In the Tarot, the number 13 means death.

5. In Norse mythology, Loki or Loptr was believed to have engineered the murder of Balder, and was the 13th guest to arrive at the funeral. Loki was “Christianized” as Satan.

The result of this phobia is that buildings skip having a 13th floor, some airplanes do not have a row 13.

Do you believe in this superstition? Experts say superstition may actually be good for your health.

Those psychological benefits can include an increased sense of order, said Rebecca Borah, a professor of English at the University of Cincinnati. In other words, superstitions are attempts to understand and even control fate in an uncertain world.

“When you have rules and you know how to play by them, it always seems a lot easier,” Borah said. “If you have Dracula, you can pretty much figure out how to avoid him, or go out and get the garlic and be able to ward off evil. That’s pretty comforting.”

People often avoid dangerous activities on the Friday 13th or Martes 13 , or take extra care to make sure they are well prepared for problems, Borah added. “Some people may even stay at home.” That can make it less crowded and congested for everyone else.

Negative Effects

On Friday the 13th or Martes 13 some people are so crippled by fear that they lock themselves inside; others have no choice but to grit their teeth and nervously get through the day.

Interestingly, they may actually encounter a slightly less dangerous world. A 2008 study by the Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics revealed that fewer traffic accidents occur on a Friday the 13th than on other Fridays. Reports of fire and theft also dropped, the study found.

Numerology

Thomas Fernsler, an associate policy scientist in the Mathematics and Science Education Resource Center at the University of Delaware in Newark, said the number 13 suffers because of its position after 12.

According to Fernsler, numerologists consider 12 a “complete” number. There are 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 apostles of Jesus.

Fernsler said 13’s association with bad luck “has to do with just being a little beyond completeness. The number becomes restless or squirmy,” he said in 2013.

Martes, ni te cases, ni te embarques

There is a popular saying in Spanish well-known in Latin America inspired by this superstition that goes Martes, ni te cases, ni te embarques (Tuesday, nor get married, nor embark) that means to stay at home, don’t travel and even don’t get married on this day because it is bad luck.

Sources: Nationalgeographic.com, Speakinglatino.com, Wikipedia

Article originally appeared at Macaronijournal.com


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