The enchantment of Friday the 13th
Yesterday was the first Friday the 13th of the New Year. I get a kick out of researching superstitions. The fear of the number 13 is known as triskaidekaphobia and no commentary about Friday the 13th would be complete without that 16-letter word.
One of our readers once told me that in her family, her late grandmother would never allow chocolate cake to be served to celebrate a birthday. To this day, she said members of her family make an end run, around grandma’s superstition, by having chocolate cake to celebrate a birthday, if the party is held on a day other than the actual birthday.
In the Oxford Dictionary of Superstitions, I found more than two pages of insight for bad luck Friday and two more pages of omens regarding the number, 13.
According to the book, a couple who wed on a Friday are doomed to a cat-and-dog life. Having married on the day after Thanksgiving, perhaps I have found a hook upon which to hang any marital discord of the last 40 years.
According to Oxford, never use a broom on Friday lest you spread bad luck throughout the house. A trip begun on Friday will be plagued with bad weather, missed connections and other mishaps. If one learns something new on a Friday it will add a wrinkle to your face and add a year to your life.
Never accept new employment that begins on Friday or the job will be short lived. Interestingly enough President Trump’s inauguration is scheduled for a Friday. Also if you move into a new home on Friday you can expect to move out before long. Enjoy 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., President Trump. My mother said that if you plant a weeping willow tree in your yard you will soon move out of the house.
Sailors, reportedly some of the most superstitious fellows, will not set sail on a Friday. Many pleasure craft, however, make their first voyage of the year on Good Friday to avoid bad luck. Butter churned or eggs laid on a Friday should never be used to bake a baby’s christening cake lest the child suffer bad luck its whole life.
Friday nights are not a proper time for a gentleman to court a lady or they will never meet again. If you have been ill, never leave your sick bed for the first time on a Friday. Since I have always believed if you call in sick on Thursday, you may as well stay out until Monday, I now have a good excuse.
A dinner party should never be comprised of 13 guests, because the first to leave the table will die within the year. Should a dinner party happen to have 13 guests the way to avoid this tragedy is for everyone at the table to rise simultaneously after the meal.
The Encyclopedia of Superstitions, by Richard Webster gives a list of 14 things never to do on Friday the 13th. Some of them are repeats from the Oxford book. The one about the broom, beginning a trip and learning something new are on his list too.
The other edicts to be avoided on Friday the 13th include don’t cut your fingernails or you will get a toothache. Do not sneeze three times lest you cause yourself great sorrow in the near future. Don’t do any sewing on Friday or you will perish before getting a chance to wear the garment. It is bad luck to pay off debts on Friday the 13th. If you laugh on this day you will cry on Sunday. If you spill salt you will have a falling out with a friend. You will get a toothache when you wash your hands and face unless you dry your hands, before you dry your face. Never give anyone a haircut on Friday the 13th or you will become involved in other people’s problems. Anything planted in your garden on Friday the 13th will die. It is a waste of time to go fishing on Friday the 13th, for you will catch nothing. It is bad luck to roll over in bed. Webster said he threw in this last one so there wouldn’t be 13 items on his list.
Webster said children born on Friday are unlucky but possess great psychic and healing gifts. Both books have large entries on the use of salt as a remedy for bad luck.
Webster’s books says that since the human body is made up of one percent salt, food prepared with a lot of salt is served after a funeral to replenish the body left depleted by weeping. The devil detests salt because it is incorruptible, immortal and linked to God.
If you accidentally spill the salt, immediately toss a pinch over your left shoulder. This is because Satan is likely to attack from the rear and from the left or sinister side. The presence of salt will immediately scare off the devil before he has time to cause any difficulties.
Before undertaking an important task, it is helpful to carry a small amount of salt in your pocket to attract good luck and ward off evil.
In Leonard da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper, Judas is depicted as spilling the saltcellar, Webster said. You should not get a haircut on Friday the 13th or someone in your family will soon die. If you wear black on this day, you will soon wear it again at a funeral.
Many people refer to the almighty dollar sometimes with reverence and sometimes with disdain. The one dollar bill has many instances of the number 13 on it. These are said to represent the US original 13 colonies and symbolizes renewal, regeneration and a new world, Webster said.
On the back of a dollar bill the great seal of the United States has an eagle clutching 13 arrows in his left claw and an olive branch with 13 leaves and 13 berries in his right talon. The shield on the eagle’s chest has 13 stripes. Above the eagle’s head is a circle with 13 stars in it. The words E Pluribus Unum is comprised of 13 letters. The pyramid on the left side of the bill is built of 13 layers and above it the phrase Annuit Coeptis has 13 letters.
On the school yard I first hear the rhyme, “See a penny, pick it up, all the day you’ll have good luck!”
Sometime in junior high I learned that you should only pick up a stray penny if it is heads up. If it is tails up, you are better off to let the next person have it, even if it makes you one cent poorer.
The next Friday the 13th this year is in October, which already has a lot of scary stuff going on in it. Have a great weekend.