Friday, 13 July 2007

Lizard! Lizard! (*)

I learned a new word today: paraskavedekatriaphobia. It derives from a concatenation of the Greek words Παρασκευή, δεκατρείς, and φοβία, meaning Friday, thirteen, and phobia respectively. It is quite a pedantic way to refer to the fear of Friday the 13th.

A Friday occurring on the thirteenth day of any month is considered to be a day of bad luck. But not everywhere, just in English, German, Polish and Portuguese-speaking countries. In Spain (in Greece too) it is Tuesday the 13th, and not Friday, who takes this role. There is even a Spanish saying about it: "Martes y trece, ni te cases ni te embarques" ("Tuesday the 13th, neither marry nor embark"), which is quite stupid, because it doesn't even rhyme!

I read today that this superstitious belief is not really old. In fact, the first written references are as recent as 1950. Or, at least, that's the point of GWUP, Gesellschaft zur wissenschaftlichen Untersuchung von Parawissenschaften e.V., Society for the Scientific Investigation of Parascience (I'm sorry, it's only in German!, but here there is something about it as well). And that might be an explanation why Spain is (once again) different. In 1950 Spain was already under Franco's dictatorship, and especially on its first half (until the 70's), there was a strong tendency to isolation from the rest of the world. Which could well had affected these kind of fairy tales as well.

How was this Friday the 13th for you?

(*) "Lagarto! Lagarto!" (Lizard! Lizard!) is a typical Spanish spell to scare evil spirits away.


christina said...

Interesting article. I had no idea that the superstition was so "young".

The day was fine for me, just like any other Friday the 13th. :-)

Tonicito said...

Me neither. I found the GWUP article very interesting.

And I don't really believe in the superstition, but... I left some calculations on my office computer to be done during the weekend, but I saw on Monday that they crashed, on Friday the 13th, as I was already gone. Coincidence? ;)

Tonicito said...

I've been recently told that the Spanish saying goes "Martes, ni te cases ni te embarques", which removes the reference to 13, but does rhyme! :)
I was wrong, I'm sorry.