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(Undated)  —  It’s Friday the 13th, the day that can make even a level-headed person a little superstitious.  Much of the stigma surrounding Friday the 13th stems from October the 13th, 1307.  On that Friday, the Pope of the Catholic church in Rome and the King of France carried out a secret death warrant against the wealthy and powerful Order of the Knights Templar.  The Templars were condemned as heretics, and their Grand Master, Jacques DeMolay, was arrested, tortured and crucified.

“Skeptical Inquirer” columnist Dr. Joe Nickell says Friday itself has always had a dark side in Western cultures.  Nickell, whose publication bills itself as the “magazine for science and reason,” points out the Bible pinpoints Friday as the day Eve gave the apple to Adam.  Friday was also execution day in ancient Rome, and Christians celebrate Good Friday as the day of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.

The number 13 has been associated with evil and unlucky events, too.  The ill-fated Apollo 13 space mission is a study in unlucky 13.  It was launched at 13-hundred hours, 13 minutes from pad 39, the third multiple of 13.  It was aborted on April 13th, 1970.  The number’s bad rap stretches far back in history.  Christianity holds that Judas Iscariot was the 13th apostle.  The ancient Scandinavians also believed the number 13 signified bad luck.  The superstition sprang from their mythological 12 demigods.  Legend had it the 12 were joined by a 13th demigod, Loki, who was evil, cruel and brought great misfortune upon humans.

But there are also plenty of good things associated with 13.  The United States started out with 13 colonies.  A baker’s dozen offers a bonus, 13th item.  In Judaism, age 13 is the time for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.  Rugby is played with 13 members to a team.  And former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino did well with the number 13 on his jersey.


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04-13-2012 00:13:22