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It’s Friday the 13th so why all the anxiety. In the U.S., Friday the 13th for some is considered an “unlucky day”.   The number 13 is considered bad luck across many countries.    Friday has long been considered an unlucky day because of the Christian tradition, Jesus died on a Friday, and 13 has a long history as an unlucky number.

From the beginning of Christianity, the superstition allegedly came from the last supper where there were 12 disciples and Christ. With Judas being a traitor, he became the thirteenth person, the unlucky guest. What’s more the antichrist appears in the 13th chapter of the apocalypse. But it’s not just Christianity. The Jewish Kabbalah and Nordic traditions associate 13 with the number of bad spirits. (For example, Loki, the bad spirit, is the thirteenth.) And in the Tarot, the number 13 refers to death. (1)

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Fear of the number 13 even has a name: Triskaidekaphobia. (Fear of Friday the thirteenth being, “friggatriskaidekaphobia.”) Hotels are known to skip the thirteenth floor in numbering them. And people will often avoid purchasing seats located in aisle 13, and so on. (1)

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For other countries such as Mexico and Spain it is Tuesday the 13th(martes trece).  Why Tuesday?  Some say it ties back to Constantinople in 1453, which happened on a Tuesday.  This has been tied to a coined idiom in Spain: “What happened?”[Whenever something bad happened.]  Answer: Tuesday”.  Martes trece or Martes comes from the planet Mars also known to be “el pequeño maléfico” (the little troublemaker) in the middle Ages and ancient astrology.

Among Mexican superstitions one dates back to 1894, the “three on a match”.  In an article by John G. Bourke, January 5, 1894, he describes the superstition among the Mexican population of the Rio Grande region of the southern United States near Fort Ringgold: “Numbers – If three men light their cigarillos from the same match, bad luck will surely overtake one of them soon.”

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Common superstitions among Anglos or the U.S. are:

  •  No umbrellas inside.
  • Crossing your fingers for good luck.
  •  Make a wish on a wishbone from your Thanksgiving turkey dinner.
  •  Knock on wood.
  •  Breaking mirrors.
  •  Bad luck comes in 3’s.
  •  A rabbit’s foot brings good luck.
  •  Black cats crossing your path.
  •  Walking under a ladder.
  •  Find a penny pick it up…heads up of course!
  •  Beginners luck.

 Occurrences of a Friday the 13th or a Tuesday the 13th obviously vary from year to year.  In 2001, Mexico had three Tuesdays that fell on the 13th (February, March and November), whereas Anglos or the U.S. had only two Fridays that fell on the 13th.  This year Mexico will have only one, which fell in August.  This year the Anglos or US will face two, one being today.

So if you are a superstitious person or not we hope your Friday the 13th or your martes trece or Tuesday the 13th is free of black cats, ladders or broken mirrors,  knock on wood!