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Friday, May 13, 2011

“Friggatriskaidekaphobia” and the Planetary Alignment

I have awakened this morning with a news broadcast over the radio about the rare occurrence of a planetary alignment between four planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter. The event has been visible to the naked eye at around 5 AM this morning (Philippine time).

As expected, there have been so many superstitious beliefs that accompany such strange occurrences. Some would say that it portends some kind of disasters in the near future but there is no scientific basis on such claim. It is even compounded by the fact that today is Friday the 13th.

Astronomers say that this is a rare event that people should enjoy watching. It occurs only in 50-100 years so I am sure that the next time these planets align, most of us are not here anymore. Unfortunately, I have missed seeing it because I am still asleep.

“Friggatriskaidekaphobia” actually, is the fear of Friday the 13th and it is quite interesting to know that it has affected around 17 to 21 million people in America. They would avoid normal routines, traveling and even getting out of bed. Experts estimate around $800 million losses in business on this day alone.

Perhaps people wonder why Friday and the number13 have had such a scary connotation. According to a theory, people have considered Friday as an unlucky day since the Lord Jesus has died on a Friday and 13 as an unlucky number because on the Last Supper, 13 people have gathered around the table. A superstitious belief has sprung that when 13 people gather around a dinner table, one of them will die.

Another theory about Friday the 13th is in the Norse Mythology. The story says that Friday comes from Frigga, a goddess of love and fertility. When the Norse people have converted to Christianity, they have banished Frigga and have labeled her as a witch. In retaliation, Frigga would set a meeting every Friday with eleven other witches, and the devil (13 in all) to plan ill against the people in the following week.

However, the most interesting theory is about the annihilation of the Order of the Knights Templar by King Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V during the crusades. The attack has happened on October 13, 1307, which has fallen on a Friday. This story has been popularized in Dan Brown’s novel “The Da Vinci Code” in 2003.

Personally, I do not believe in superstitions and I believe that our actions should not be guided by fear about the strange and the unseen.

Image above courtesy of:
Info courtesy of Wikipedia

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