Friday the 13th just went by, but not without making a percentage of world population nervous from dawn to dusk. Many employees call sick to avoid precarious situations arising at work that may spiral out of control on this inauspicious day. Others stay out of cats crossing their path, avoid walking under ladders, restrain from tinkling keys, and do their best not to lose their handkerchief.
The origin of fears surrounding Friday the 13th is unclear. There has been a longstanding myth that if 13 people dine together, one will die within a year. The myth comes from both the Last Supper, when Jesus dined with the 12 Apostles prior to his death, and a popular Norse myth, in which 11 close friends of the god Odin dine together only to have the 12-person party crashed by a 13th person, Loki, the god of evil and turmoil.
Whatever its origins, Friday the 13th, that can appear up to three times a year, is considered the unluckiest day of the year, cursed across the world for thousands of years. Number 12, however, is symbolic of completeness: There are 12 hours of the clock, 12 months of the year, 12 Apostles of Jesus, and the list goes on.
Do you count yourself among the clan of people who believe they are doomed for seven straight years if they break a mirror? As irrational as it may sound, the superstition arises from the belief that mirrors don’t just reflect your image, they hold bits of your soul. The belief led people to cover mirrors when someone died lest their soul be trapped in them.
However much rational we may claim ourselves to be, we unconsciously end up knocking on wood to avoid jinxing something good, or cross our fingers to pray for luck. These are harmless acts, not endangering your well-being unless you take it to the next level and stay in bed paralyzed by fear due to unfounded beliefs.
Vinita Kinra is a Toronto-based author, editor, speaker and activist, best known for her short story collection, Pavitra in Paris, launched to critical acclaim in 2013. She is also a contributor for India’s largest English daily, The Times of India.