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Friday 13th

First of all, welcome to all the triskaidekaphobics who are reading this tomorrow. After all, you’re surely not going to doing anything as risky as surfing the Internet on today of all days, are you? Black cats crossing your path while walking under ladders and dropping a mirror have got nothing on the viruses, worms, trojans and other nasties lurking round the net! (If you don’t know the meaning of that long word in the first sentence, check out the phobia list).

This morning, I was browsing the latest update over at Snopes, which is my favourite online reference for urban legends (apart from the pop-up adverts!). Appropriately enough, they were covering the superstitions that surround Friday 13th. What particularly caught my eye was the assertion that “… the claim that the Friday the 13th superstition began with the arrest of the final Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques Demolay, on Friday, October 13, 1307, is a modern-day invention.”

Aw, shucks! I’m sure I was authoritatively telling somebody that this was the background to fear of the number thirteen not too long ago but I can’t remember who it was. Hopefully, this confession of ignorance will make up for that in some small way! Of course, the Snopes folks may be wrong but I’ve normally found them worthy of credence.

As I recall, what brought that legend back to mind was reading Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code, which I’ve mentioned before. I should have known better than to trust anything I read in there, especially as I’ve also got a sneaking feeling that the first place I came across that legend was Michael Baigent’s The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, which is both (IMHO) a major source text for Brown’s later work and a pile of mystical balderdash in its own right!

Ho-hum! Whether or not the superstition has anything to do with the historical event (regardless of if it developed in the Middle Ages or at a much later date), I haven’t come across any good reason to regard it as true. I did hear Stevie Wonder’s Superstition playing when I was down at the supermarket earlier this evening but that was more a chance to do the shopping trolley boogie than anything to be afraid of.

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