Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday the 13th

Today was another pleasant day and a great day to cap off the week, despite the old superstitions regarding Friday the 13th. In my mind, any Friday is a good Friday. Work is finished and I can unwind.

I decided to do a little research last night to see if I could come up with the origins for all the silliness surrounding Friday the 13th. Traditional English and Portuguese cultures considered the date an unlucky omen while in ancient Chinese culture, Friday the 13th was actually considered to be a day of good fortune. I wasn't able to come up with any definitive answers and it seems no one really knows for sure how it all got started.

The history buff in me however did come up with a few well-known people who had either the fortune or misfortune to be born on a Friday the 13th. It makes for an interesting list.

Born on Friday the 13th

1743 - Thomas Jefferson - 3rd President of the United States

1821 - Nathan Bedford Forrest - Confederate War General and First Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan

1906 - Samuel Becket - novelist and poet

1914 - W.O. Mitchell - Canadian author

1926 - Fidel Castro - President of Cuba (sorry Fidel, no birthday card from the White House again this year)

1945 - Tony Dow of Leave it to Beaver Fame

1948 - Kathleen Battle - American Soprano

1957 - Steve Buscemi - film and stage actor (Reservoir Dogs and Fargo being personal favorites)

1961 - Julia Louis-Dreyfus - US actress

1986 - Marie Kate and Ashley Olsen - US actresses

Died on Friday the 13th (the only ones I know about all happen to be musicians which I find a bit unsettling)

1951 - Arnold Schoenberg - Austrian/US composer - ironically, Schoenberg held a morbid fascination with the number 13

1986 - Benny Goodman - jazz clarinetist

1996 - Tupac Shakur - US rap artist

Hmmm...Since I found more famous people who were born than had died on a Friday the 13th perhaps this date isn't as unlucky as it's made out to be.


Curt, Melissa & Christopher said...

There is a basis for Friday the 13 being a bad Omen, however it eludes the front of my mind right now. I'm thinking it links back to the 17th century and was a date of a extra tax for people with children. However I'm not willing to commit to it right now, I will send another reply when the information filters to the front of my brain.

Way Way Up said...

I had been hoping to come up with a definitive answer since students will ask me some good history questions from time to time. It's encouraging to see them pondering questions outside of the regular curriculum (which sorely needs changing.) At any rate, I'd be interested to hear what you come up with on this one.

Curt, Melissa & Christopher said...

Ok, I was way off base it occured to me around midnight. It is a biblical reference. As traditional biblical scholars believe that the dy of the week was Friday on the date of the eviction from eden, the last supper and the cruxificion, Friday was thought of as being a day of bad Omens. As for the 13th, that is in reference to the 13 memeber of the last supper who allegedly betrayed Jesus.
Hope this helps.
Take Care