Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thank God It's Paraskeví !

Is Friday the 13th a day when you expect “bad luck”? Is it a time to indulge in superstitious behavior “just in case” it might protect you from bad things that could happen? Do you avoid leaving the house or going anywhere that's not absolutely necessary? Ever wonder where and when this "fear" became a "factor"?

"It's been estimated that [U.S] $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do," said Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina. More than 80 percent of high-rises lack a 13th floor. Many airports skip the 13th gate. Hospitals and hotels regularly have no room number 13. On streets in Florence, Italy, the house between number 12 and 14 is addressed as 12 and a half. Many triskaidekaphobes, as those who fear the unlucky integer are known, point to the ill-fated mission to the moon, Apollo 13.


The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia a word derived from the concatenation of the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή) (meaning Friday), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς) (meaning thirteen), attached to phobía (φοβία) (meaning fear). Otherwise normal people alter their behavior for no other reason than that the calendar reflects a date that has an unlucky stigma attached to it. Where did this originate and should a Christian be concerned about it?

A number of incidents on their own have been attributed to Friday the 13th being unlucky but when taken all together the date takes on an other worldly aura.
A Norse myth about 12 gods having a dinner party at Valhalla, their heaven. In walked the uninvited 13th guest, the mischievous Loki. Once there, Loki arranged for Hoder, the blind god of darkness, to shoot Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow. "Balder died and the whole Earth got dark. The whole Earth mourned. It was a bad, unlucky day," said Dossey. From that moment on, the number 13 has been considered ominous and foreboding.


Another origin of the superstition, though, appears also to be a tale in Norse mythology. Friday is named for Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility. When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil - a gathering of thirteen - and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week. For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was known as "Witches' Sabbath."

The Knights Templar were a monastic military order founded in Jerusalem in 1118 AD., whose mission was to protect Christian pilgrims during the Crusades. Over the next two centuries, the Knights Templar became extraordinarily powerful and wealthy. Threatened by that power and eager to acquire their wealth, King Philip secretly ordered the mass arrest of all the Knights Templar in France with the Pope`s blessing. The arrest of Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, and 60 of his senior knights on Friday, October 13, 1307 by King Philip IV of France is the origin of this superstition. That day thousands of Templars were arrested and subsequently tortured. They then 'confessed' and were executed. From that day on, Friday the 13th was considered by followers of the Templars as an evil and unlucky day.

The Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics (CVS) on June 12, 2008, stated that "fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday than on other Fridays, because people are preventatively more careful or just stay home. Statistically speaking, driving is slightly safer on Friday 13th, at least in The Netherlands; in the last two years, Dutch insurers received reports of an average 7,800 traffic accidents each Friday; but the average figure when the 13th fell on a Friday was just 7,500. However, a 1993 study in the British Medical Journal that compared the ratio of traffic accidents between Friday the 6th and Friday the 13th, stated that there is a significant increase in traffic-related accidents on Fridays the 13th.

There is also a biblical reference to the unlucky number 13. Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th guest to the Last Supper. As for Friday, it is considered among many Christians as the day Jesus was crucified. (Learn the real day Christ died for our sins.)

As Christians we have no reason to fear as we have not been given the spirit of fear and the LORD our God goes with us and He will not fail us nor forsake us.

Refs. Friday the 13th: Superstition, Fear or Fraud?
Friday the 13th Phobia Rooted in Ancient History
Why Friday the 13th Is Unlucky

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2Ti 1:7 (KJV)For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Deut 31:6 (KJV) Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
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