Now, I imagine to some of you, the number thirteen strikes fear into your heart, and will have you running for the hills. The reason being that the number thirteen is widely considered to be a very unlucky number for various reasons.
One of the most common reasons behind why the number thirteen is considered unlucky is in regards to the Hangman's Noose. Apparently, it takes exactly thirteen turns to make one, as anything less would not snap a neck. There's also a theory that it is very unlucky to have thirteen people seated at a table, citing the Last Supper as an example.
And, of course, there's the idea of Friday the 13th being the most unluckiest day ever. And we just happen to be in a year that has THREE Friday the Thirteenths (We had one in January, but April and July 2012 also have a Friday the Thirteenth).
Some people really take the idea of thirteen being a very unlucky number quite seriously. Some hotels and office buildings were built with a non-existant thirteenth floor, and some people have developed a real fear of the number thirteen. There's even a name for the phobia of thirteen. Triskaidekaphobia.
Try saying that thirteen times fast.
That being said, considering that this is the thirteenth Thursday of the year, those of you who suffer from triskaidekaphobia may not be comfortable with reading this blog entry. And, that's fine. I know what it's like to have a fear that many would see as uncommon (though in my case, it's balloons popping, not the number 13).
At the same time, this is the thirteenth confession.
THURSDAY CONFESSION #13: For the most part, I am NOT a superstitious person.
I don't really see what the big deal about the number thirteen is. To me, it's just a number that happens to be sandwiched in between twelve and fourteen. That's it. It has no other effect on me.
Sure, it's hard to deny that the number thirteen has been involved in some very unlucky situations (for one more, just Google Apollo 13), but the number thirteen is seen as a very lucky number to others.
Take Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. Founded in 1819, the university boasts that it was founded by thirteen men with thirteen dollars, thirteen prayers, and thirteen articles. Almost two hundred years later, the school still holds the number thirteen in high regard. The campus address is 13 Oak Drive, and the male a cappella group is known as the “Colgate 13”.
We could examine the small Brazilian religion known as the “Coperos”, which believes that the number 13 is a sacred number. To them, thirteen represents salvation.
A number of sports figures throughout history have proudly worn the number thirteen. These include Dan Marino, Alex Rodriguez, Wilt Chamberlain, Steve Nash, Mats Sundin, Pavel Datsyuk, Bill Guerin, and Michael Cammalleri.
And, country music singer Taylor Swift (born December 13, 1989), considers the number thirteen to be her own personal lucky number, explaining that the number is synonymous with good luck. She even writes the number on her hand whenever she performs in concert (so the next time you're at a Taylor Swift concert, see if you can spot it).
And, that's precisely the point that I wanted to make in regards to the whole superstition of thirteen being bad. In some cases, yes, thirteen has gotten a bad rap. But, I've also proven that good things do happen to those who believe in the power of thirteen.
But, again, I'm pretty indifferent to the number thirteen. It doesn't give me good luck or bad luck because I don't believe in the superstitious nature of that particular number. There is another number though that pops up quite often in my own personal life, but I'll share that story with you in a future Thursday Confession.
It does boggle my mind that so many people do take the power of superstition very seriously.
A superstition is defined as an irrational belief arising from ignorance or fear. Over the last few centuries, hundreds of superstitions were born in various parts of the world at different times. But, I've dismissed most of them as being old wives tales, or being an impossibility.
I will admit to one superstition that I do believe in though. I don't walk underneath ladders of any sort. For one, I'm over six feet tall, and I would probably bop my head on the top rung of many standard ladders, causing me much pain. But, I also realize that the dangers of walking under a ladder are real. You could cause the person standing on the ladder at the time to fall, or you could get beaned from above with another object.
Hence the reason why my confession included the words, “for the most part”.
But, researching some of the classic superstitions over the years, I shake my head, and wonder why people would believe such tripe.
I'm sure that most of us have heard the classic rhyme “Step on a crack, break your momma's back”. We used to say that rhyme in the school playground, and Devo somehow managed to weave that statement into their 1980 hit single “Whip It”. But, I can state that in my years, I have stepped on a couple of hundred thousand cracks in the sidewalk, and my mother has never sustained a back injury. Superstition denied.
I also don't believe in the sentiment that if a black cat crosses your path, you're somehow doomed. I personally think black cats are some of the coolest looking cats out there. My sister once owned a jet black cat named Vernon for several years, and he pretty much kept to himself. My sister's house never burned down, nobody got hit by a car, and everyone lived happily ever after until Vernon died in 2004.
And, there's also the superstition that if you break a mirror, the tradeoff is horrible luck for the next seven years of your life. If that's the case, my other sister should be serving the fourth phase of her 49-year-sentence for the seven mirrors she broke in her lifetime (though I will say that only one or two were deliberate).
Of course, by publicly posting this online, I may have sealed my OWN fate, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
It's really fascinating to read some of the lists of superstitions that I have found online. Many of them were ones that I didn't even know existed. For instance, did you know that...
...a bird in the house is a sign of death? (I couldn't believe it myself. I mean, I remember the one time in which we had a bird flying inside our front porch in the spring of 2000, but that was just a freak accident. Although, the fact that my grandfather passed away on July 14 that year does kind of freak me out. I'm sure it was purely coincidental. It had to be.)
...a loaf of bread should never be turned upside down after a slice has been cut from it? (I never saw this as a superstition. Common sense should tell you that you should never turn bread upside down under any circumstances, as the top would get all flattened out. Even so, I'm not exactly sure why this would be considered superstitious. Anyone have any ideas?)
...if the first butterfly that you see in the year is white, it is a sign of good luck all that year? (Well, the first one I saw was yellow. I'm screwed.)
...a horseshoe hung in the bedroom will keep nightmares away? (And, if the horseshoe happens to get loose and falls on your head, you may never have another dream again. Just saying.)
...if you catch a falling leaf on the first day of autumn, you will not catch a cold all winter? (Lies. All lies. Trust me on this one.)
...dropping an umbrella on the floor means that there will be a murder in the house? (Okay, I knew the one about not opening up an umbrella indoors, but this one seems crazy to me. If that was the case, there should have been a massacre at my house circa 1992.)
...to dream of a lizard is a sign that you have a secret enemy? (Seriously? I mean, I appreciate the imagery to use a lizard to symbolize an enemy – slimy, cold-blooded – but really? Dreaming a lizard creates an instant enemy? If that were the case, my dreams during high school should have taken place at the reptile section of the zoo!)
...if the groom drops the wedding band during the ceremony, the marriage is doomed? (I want to hear from any divorced followers here...is there any truth to that? I'm curious to know.)
...if a friend gives you a knife, you should give him a coin, or the friendship will be broken? (Clearly, the weirdest one I've read yet. When the heck is a friend going to give me a knife? Unless, the friend were to stab me, in which case, they wouldn't be a friend. And, if that did go down, I'm sure tossing a handful of pennies at them would be the furthest thought from my mind!)
Let's keep this list going. What are some of the superstitions and old wives tales that you have heard over your lifetime? Do you take them at their word, or dismiss it as paranoia? You tell me.
And, now, some Stevie Wonder.
(This post was originally written with size 13 pt font...somehow, it shrank. How...superstitious...)