By Daniel Cumerlato, special to the News
The day is Friday the 13th, November, in the year 1868, and Italian composer Gioachino Rossini is dying of pneumonia in Paris, France. No last-minute cure will come and no amazing doctor will swoop in to save the day.
For Rossini, Friday the 13th would be a very unlucky day. This would be immortalized in the writings of his biographer Henri Grevedon:
“Rossini was surrounded to the last by admiring friends; and if it be true that, like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that on Friday 13th of November he passed away.”
It was a humble start for the day that would become infamous and lead to the estimated 21 million people in North America who now fear it.
But why this fear?
Thank God it ISN’T Friday
1. Italians (like Rossini) see Friday as a scary day in religion and the military. The fall of Rome started on a Friday.
2. The Roman Catholic Church calculated that Jesus died on a Friday.
3. Adam and Eve ate the apple on a Friday.
4. The early church wanted to make women subservient to men. A part of the propaganda was to disparage the Roman admiration for the goddess Venus. Friday was the day of Venus, a day the church would then demonize.
13 is the scariest number
1. There were 13 people at the Last Supper and Judas the betrayer was the 13th to arrive.
2. There are 13 steps on the gallows for the condemned to walk to their noose.
3. Do you have 13 letters in your name? That means you might be a serial killer, just like Charles Manson, Jack the Ripper, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo.
4. Belief in the evils of 13 is so strong that many developers will skip the 13th floor in high-rise buildings.
Put these two superstitions together and you’ve got a very unlucky day. Hospital visits and traffic accidents increase, plus I hear murders by maniacs in hockey masks go up.
Some people might try to tell you that Friday the 13th is a lucky day, but I wouldn’t believe them. Why take the chance when it’s a perfect excuse to stay at home, under your bed, clutching a knife so tight that your hands are shaking … that’s what I do.
Happy Friday the 13th!
Daniel Cumerlato runs Haunted Hamilton Ghost Walks (hauntedhamilton.com) — dedicated to real ghosts, legends and dark history since 1999.
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