Friday, January 13, 2017

The Superstition of the Number Thirteen by Cora Linn Daniels 1908

The Superstition of the Number Thirteen by Cora Linn Daniels 1908

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Thirteen is the most unlucky number of all. The origin of the idea that it is unlucky to sit down at table with thirteen, has been traced back to the old Norse Mythology in which occurs the story of the gods sitting down to a feast in Valhalla where Loki (the embodiment of mischief, hate and cruelty) had intruded, thus making thirteen guests. At this feast Loki caused the death of Baldur the Beautiful, the embodiment of beauty, joy and gladness. Hence arose the great cry throughout the land: "Baldur the Beautiful is dead, is dead!" The speechless dismay which filled all living things at the announcement of the sad news, signifies the gloom of winter. Others trace the origin of this superstition to the last supper, where Christ sat with his 12 disciples, thus making a party of 13 of which Christ was crucified and Judas Iscariot hanged himself.

The Turks dislike the number 13 to such an extent, that they have almost expunged the word from their vocabulary.

The Italians regard 13 as unlucky because the thirteenth card of one of the sets of cards used in playing the game of Tarochi, bears the figure of death. They never use the number in making up the numbers of their lotteries.

In Paris no house bears the number, and persons called "Quatorziens" (fourteeners) are people of recognized social position, who hold themselves ready to be called upon to make up the fourteenth at dinner parties.

In many hotels all over the world there is no room bearing the number 13.

On the other hand the "Welsh Romance" enumerates the following 13 precious things of Britain:
1. Dyrnwyn, the sword of Rhydderch Hael; if any man except Hael drew this blade, it burst into flame from point to hilt.
2. The basket of Gwyddno Garanhir. If food for one man were put therein it multiplied till it sufficed for a hundred.
3. The horn of Bran Galed which contained always the drink which the drinker most desired.
4. The platter of Rhegynydd Ysgolhaig which always contained the very food that the eater most liked.
5. The chariot of Morgan Mwynvawr. Whoever sat therein was transported instantaneously to the place he wished to go.
6. The halter of Clydno Eiddyn. Whatever horse he wished for, was always found therein. It hung on a staple at the foot of his bed.
7. The knife of Llawfrodded Farchawg. It would serve twenty-four men simultaneously at any meal.
8. The chaldron of Tyrnog. If meat for a brave man were put in, it would cook instantaneously but if meat for a coward were put in, it would never get boiled.
9. The whetstone of Tudwal Tudclud. If the sword of a brave man were sharpened thereon, its cut was certain death, but if of a coward the cut was harmless.
10. The robe of Padarn Beisrudd. It fitted everyone of gentle birth but no churl could wear it.
11. The mantle of Tegau Eurvron which only fitted ladies whose conduct was irreproachable.
12. The mantle of King Arthur, which could be worn or used as a carpet and whoever wore it or stood on it was invisible. This mantle or carpet was called Gwenn.
13. The chess-board of Gwendolen. When the men were placed upon it, they played of themselves. The board was of gold and the men silver.

Another English example of the number 13 being given a lucky significance, is the superstition that to eat Christmas pudding in 13 different houses before the first of January is a sign that you will have joy and prosperity all the coming year.

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