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Another year over...

Published: 28 Dec 2012 09:300 comments

Well, another year over and another one about to begin but, this year is not just like any other.

It has been a century since we have had a year with the number 13 in it--or are we going to bypass 13 and call it………maybe 2012B or maybe 2014.

I was coming home from my holiday with Ryanair last week and needed to go to the toilet and…. No, Michael O'Leary hasn't started charging for going there yet (maybe this year). As I had needed to get up at five in the morning to make my way to the airport, by eleven I was exhausted so, I thought I had better check my seat number in case I get lost on the way back. I didn't want to look a complete fool by not knowing where I was sitting. I looked up at the numbers and realized that I was in number 14, which was beside number twelve. No thirteen I remarked to myself as I checked the other side of the aisle. What is it about thirteen that everyone seems have a problem with it, even Michael O'Leary (Mr. Ryanair). Even a man who seems to fear nothing also fears this number.

As this column is being written for the new year I thought I will have to look into this as I have always loved odd numbers including thirteen; is it me that is odd?

Whilst I was being wheeled down the corridor of the Erne hospital in Enniskillen on the thirteenth of November, not only was the date the thirteenth but it was Friday.

'Are you superstitious?' the nurse asked.

'Why?' I answered, puzzled.

'It's Friday the 13th.'

'My lucky day.' I smiled in answer. It was….. my daughter was just born.

I was thinking about this column when a friend arrived for a visit. 'Any jokes about the New Year?' I asked, as he is a great man for telling jokes.

'Well,' says he, 'I'll tell you a story, which when I heard it I thought it was a joke.'

'Go on,' I said.

'You know that in the South we have the year of the car on the number plate? Well, they are changing it this year because the motor industry are afraid no one will buy one with the number 13 on it.'

'Let me guess,' I said, 'they are going to call it 12A?'

'No,' he replied, 'they are going to have the first six months as 131 and the second half 132.'

Have people gone mad. What is so wrong with this wonderful number? I said.

The moon moves 13 degrees around the earth every day. It takes 13 days to change from the Full Moon to the New Moon and 13 days to change back with 1 day Full and 1 day New to equal 28 days of the Lunar Cycle.

In ancient cultures the number 13 represented femininity, because it corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year (13 x 28 = 364 days). The theory is that as the solar calendar triumphed over the lunar, the number thirteen became a curse.

Now why does this not surprise me? In most religions the female is considered inferior to the male. Why? Because men fear their power.

I 'googled' it and this is what I found:

The fear of the number 13 is a condition called 'Triskaidekaphobia

1.There were 13 people at the Last Supper. It's said that Judas Iscariot - the one who betrayed Jesus - was the 13th man to take his place at the table, but was that not what was supposed to happen! 

2. Similarly there's a Norse legend that has 12 gods sitting down to a banquet when the 13th (uninvited) god, Loki, showed up. Loki killed one of the other gods, which led to events that eventually resulted in Ragnarok - the death of a bunch of gods, a slew of natural disasters, and the eradication of everything on earth save for two human survivors. Now I wonder what those two were called?

3. Traditionally there used to be 13 steps leading up the gallows. There's also a legend that a hangman's noose traditionally contained 13 turns, but in fact it is eight.

4. Apollo 13 is the only unsuccessful moon mission. An oxygen tank exploded and the survival of the astronauts on board was pretty touch-and-go for several days, but they did all come home safely in the end (but you already knew that).

5. There was a mass arrest and execution of the Knights Templar on Friday, October 13, 1307. This has given rise to speculation and legends, which have kept the "Templar" name alive into the modern day.

6. Although a "coven" is now just considered to be a group of witches (or vampires, if you're into a certain young adult series about vampires), it was once believed that a coven was made up of exactly 13 members.

7. There's an old superstition that says if you have 13 letters in your name, you're bound to have the "devil's luck." Silly, yes, but slightly more convincing when you consider that Charles Manson, Jack the Ripper, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all contain 13 letters (yes, I know, but then again so have a lot of you…start counting).

8. Kids officially become teenagers at the age of 13, and we all know that's a scary phase (not only for the child but…also for the parent).

9. In numerology, the number 12 is considered to be the representation of perfection and completion. So it stands to reason that trying to improve upon perfection by adding one is a very bad idea indeed - or does it?

And here's a bonus fact for you today. In the late 1800s existed a group called The Thirteen Club. Their purpose was to debunk the legend that 13 people at a table would result in the death of one of them within a year. They met on the 13th of the month and had dinner with 13 people to a table, and to make matters worse, they purposely spilled salt on the table without throwing it over their shoulders. The horror! They also fined members who showed up late - 13 cents, of course. Members of the 13 Club included five U.S. presidents - Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt and Chester A. Arthur. I'm not sure if it's worth noting that two of these presidents were shot - one fatally, of course - but I'll mention it anyway. And, if you're keeping track, Chester A. Arthur only became president because he was vice when Garfield was assassinated, but we'll not go there.

On Wikipedia I found a list of sportsmen (like me) who consider it their lucky number.

Park Ji-Sung, South-Korean footballer and midfielder for Queens Park Rangers wears number 13. Ozzie Guillén,manager of the 2005 World Series Champion Chicago White Sox, has worn the number throughout his baseball career. Alex Rodriguez began wearing it upon joining the New York Yankees (three, the number he had previously worn, is retired by the Bronx Bombers to honor Babe Ruth).  Dan Marino, an American football player known for passing the 3rd most yards in NFL history, wore the number 13. Basketball great Wilt Chamberlain wore the number 13 on his jersey throughout his NBA career. Also, FIBA rules require a player to wear the number in international competitions (only numbers from 4 to 15 could be worn, and as there are 12 players, one must wear 13); Chris Mullin, who wore No. 20 in college and No. 17 in the NBA, wore No. 13 for both (1984 and 1992) of his Olympic appearances. Shaquille O'Neal wore No. 13 in 1996; Tim Duncan wore No. 13 in 2004. Steve Nash wore it for most of his basketball career. Yao Ming wore it in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Chris Paul wore the number 13 for both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Mats Sundin, Pavel Datsyuk, Bill Guerin, and Michael Cammalleri wear 13 in the NHL. One of Iceland's all time best handball players, Sigurður Sveinsson, wore the number 13 when he played for the national team. In association football, both Gerd Müller and Michael Ballack have favoured the number 13, among others.

In Italy, 13 is also considered to be a lucky number. America has thirteen stars and thirteen strips on it flag.

Some people even have 13 tattooed onto them to represent the lucky number….. Thinking about doing it myself!

I wish to finish this year by thanking all of you who took the time to read any of my columns and in wishing anyone who got to the bottom of this article a very Happy 2013th year…….. May it bring you all the luck of the number thirteen?

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