Epiphany 8


Paraskavedekatriaphobia might seem the phobia of the day today.  Another would be friggatriskaidekaphobia.  It really depends upon whether one likes the Greek or the Norse version of celebrating today, Friday the 13th.  The English word Friday comes from the Norse goddess Frigga, a goddess said to have also been a seer.  Triskaidekaphobia is also a term bandied about today although it takes a more circuitous route to justify its terminology.  Whether you fear “paraskeví”, meaning Friday and “dekatreís” meaning thirteen, The Goddess Frigga and her day falling on the 13th day of the month, the fear of which is called triskaidekaphobia, or want to fear three and ten as triskaidekaphobia warrants, today might make you very uneasy.


Basically Fridays have had a bad rap ever since Geoffrey Chaucer wrote that all sorts of evil occurred on a Friday in his “Canterbury Tales”: “ And on a Friday fell all this mischance.”  If you don’t remember that, today might be a good day to stay inside and reread this classic.  In fact, reading a good book is a good activity on any given day, regardless of the date.


Friday and the fear of it has some religious roots.  Friday is supposedly the date on which Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit.  The man known as Jesus of Nazareth was crucified on a Friday and, according to the book “The Da Vinci Code”, author Dan Brown wrote that the Knights Templar were arrested, tortured, and killed on a Friday, Friday the 13th in fact.  In his book titled “Friday the Thirteenth”, Nathaniel Lachenmeyer wrote that a stockbroker chose that day to incite a panic, hoping to take down Wall Street.  Maybe reading a book might not help you get over such a phobia after all.


Supposedly the last to arrive at the Last Supper, the final gathering in the Bible of Jesus and his disciples was the disciples Judas.  Judas would be the one to betray him and lead Jesus to his arrest and torture, the 13th man to arrive at the meeting.  The number thirteen has other nefarious connotations, however.


Traditionally, there were thirteen steps leading up to the gallows.  Twelve was considered the number of completeness – twelvemonths in the calendar, twelve hours on a clock face, twelve tribes of Israel, and the aforementioned twelve apostles or disciples of Jesus.  Several serial killers have thirteen letters in their name – Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson (Go ahead and count; I’ll wait.).


So why write a piece entitled “Play” on Friday the Thirteenth?  Because it is a really great time to do just that – play.  Numbers only have the power that we give them.  There is no magical power or evil power associated with any particular number.  We might, today, need to stop overthinking and simple enjoy.  Getting married on Friday the Thirteenth is actually less expensive since there are very few people vying for this date.


You can also go shopping and get bargains on Friday the Thirteenth.  Retail merchants overall lose between three to eight millions dollars on such days due to people staying home.  That much desired reservation at the latest posh restaurant might be available today since millions report a fear of venturing out. 


Of course, there is the first recorded instance of the day and number as being unlucky.   The death of Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, a man who believed that both Friday and the number 13 were unlucky, ironically occurred on Friday, Nov. 13, 1868.  One of the most popular opera composers to have lived, today might be a great day to go to the opera.  Celebrate the wonderful life of such a talented composer who died not due to any evil associated with the number 13 but from pneumonia. 


Enjoy yourself today.  After all, it is a Friday and for many, the beginning of the weekend.  Life is to be lived and hiding out in fear is really not living.  Stop taking yourself so seriously and make time to play!







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