By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Hey, all you superstitious readers out there, today is Friday the 13th, that infamous date associated with bad luck and calamity that literally keeps some people locked in their homes for 24 hours.
Yup, the dreaded Friday the 13th – which falls at least once a year on the Gregorian Calendar and can occur as often as three times in a single year (we already survived one in April) – is here to make you miss your bus to work, spill ink on your new Armani suit and cause the water pipes in your house explode into a flood of Biblical proportions.
For true believers, there’s no telling how the evil maleficence of Friday the 13th will play out.
(If it’s any consolation, in Mexico the ominous day if Tuesday the 13th, which means you can either switch out the Doomsday scenario for a different date or, if you are a diehard pessimist, tiptoe your way through both unfortunate diurnal occasions.)
Paraskevidekatriaphobia (the technical name for fear of Friday the 13th) seemingly has its roots in Norse mythology.
Allegedly, the illustrious deity Baldur was slain during a banquet in which his archenemy Loki showed up uninvited to a party of 12, bringing the number of diners to 13.
The implicit imprudence of dining with 13 is replicated in the Biblical account of the Last Supper, when Jesus Christ sat down to a Passover Seder with 12 of his disciples only to end up being betrayed by one of them.
(Even if you don’t suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia, it’s probably not a good idea to have a 13-member dinner party, since trying to set placemats for an odd number of guests is always awkward, and, besides, most china sets only include service for 12.)
As for the Friday part of the omen, there is no historic evidence of the two elements of the curse being linked until sometime in the early 19th century, when it was revealed in a Henry Sutherland Edward biograph of Gioachino Rossini that the latter died on a Friday the 13th.
In 1907, the U.S. stockbroker and author Thomas W. Lawson published a novel titled “Friday, the Thirteenth” about an unprincipled trader who used the superstition about the day to stir panic during a Wall Street crash.
And, of course, it all that doesn’t intimidate you, there is always the Friday the 13th horror movie franchise of 12 slasher films guaranteed to scare the bejeebers out of you.
There is, of course, no scientific evidence that Friday the 13th is any more unlucky than any other day on the calendar, but, as Meredith Grey famously said on a 2006 episode of Grey’s Anatomy, “Don’t diss the juju.”
Staying home and burying yourself under the covers until Saturday may not be the best approach, but you might want to take just a little more care today when crossing the street or asking your boss for a raise.