Interesting day today! Friday, the 13th. In Western urban legends – its a devil’s day.
Well, in the Northern US the day started with record snows in Upstate NY. They had over 2 feet of snow.
An historic and major lake effect snow event will begin to die down across the Buffalo area this morning, after leaving some parts of that area buried under 2 feet of snow. Overnight, snow fell at a rate of 2 to 4 inches per hour, with thunder snow producing frequent lightning. In addition to the amount of snow, this has been a very heavy wet snow, resulting in over 250,000 people without power across the Buffalo area.
On the South Asian front, the father of Micro-credit financing industry in Bangladesh and inspiration to many grass-root activists in South Asia, Mohd Yunus, finally got his due – Nobel Peace Prize!
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2006 was awarded to Muhammad Yunus, the 66-year-old Bangladeshi behind the Grameen Movement micro-banking system that has helped millions in his homeland, it was announced Friday in Oslo.
The Grameen Bank, which means ‘rural bank’ in Bengali, was also given the award worth 10 million kronor ($1.37 million), jointly.
The five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee cited Yunus and Grameen Bank ‘for their efforts to create economic and social development from below’.
The committee underlined that ‘lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Microcredit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights’.
The bank was created in 1976, and has focused on offering credits to poor women and has since spread to some 100 countries worldwide.
Finally, here is something on Friday the 13th:
The sixth day of the week and the number 13 both have foreboding reputations said to date from ancient times, and their inevitable conjunction from one to three times a year portends more misfortune than some credulous minds can bear. Some sources say it may be the most widespread superstition in the United States. Some people won’t go to work on Friday the 13th; some won’t eat in restaurants; many wouldn’t think of setting a wedding on the date.
Just how many Americans at the turn of the millennium still suffer from this condition? According to Dr. Donald Dossey, a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of phobias (and coiner of the term “paraskevidekatriaphobia”), the figure may be as high as 21 million. If he’s right, eight percent of Americans are still in the grips of a very old superstition.
It is said: If 13 people sit down to dinner together, all will die within the year. The Turks so disliked the number 13 that it was practically expunged from their vocabulary (Brewer, 1894). Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue. Many buildings don’t have a 13th floor. If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil’s luck (Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all have 13 letters in their names). There are 13 witches in a coven.
It has been proposed, for example, that fears surrounding the number 13 are as ancient as the act of counting. Primitive man had only his 10 fingers and two feet to represent units, this explanation goes, so he could count no higher than 12. What lay beyond that – 13 – was an impenetrable mystery to our prehistoric forebears, hence an object of superstition.
How it all came about in history for this 13th? Here is some info on that too:
To the ancient Egyptians, these sources tell us, life was a quest for spiritual ascension which unfolded in stages – 12 in this life and a 13th beyond, thought to be the eternal afterlife. The number 13 therefore symbolized death – not in terms of dust and decay, but as a glorious and desirable transformation. Though Egyptian civilization perished, the symbolism conferred on the number 13 by its priesthood survived, only to be corrupted by subsequent cultures who came to associate 13 with a fear of death instead of a reverence for the afterlife.
Other sources speculate that the number 13 may have been purposely vilified by the founders of patriarchal religions in the early days of western civilization because it represented femininity. Thirteen had been revered in prehistoric goddess-worshiping cultures, we are told, because it corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year (13 x 28 = 364 days). The “Earth Mother of Laussel,” for example – a 27,000-year-old carving found near the Lascaux caves in France often cited as an icon of matriarchal spirituality – depicts a female figure holding a cresent-shaped horn bearing 13 notches. As the solar calendar triumphed over the lunar with the rise of male-dominated civilization, it is surmised, so did the number 12 over the number 13, thereafter considered anathema.
India and Vikings:
the Hindus, who believed, for reasons I haven’t been able to ascertain, that it is always unlucky for 13 people to gather in one place – say, at dinner. Interestingly enough, precisely the same superstition has been attributed to the ancient Vikings (though I have also been told, for what it’s worth, that this and the accompanying mythographical explanation are apocryphal). The story has been laid down as follows:
Twelve gods were invited to a banquet at Valhalla. Loki, the Evil One, god of mischief, had been left off the guest list but crashed the party, bringing the total number of attendees to 13. True to character, Loki raised hell by inciting Hod, the blind god of winter, to attack Balder the Good, who was a favorite of the gods. Hod took a spear of mistletoe offered by Loki and obediently hurled it at Balder, killing him instantly. All Valhalla grieved. And although one might take the moral of this story to be “Beware of uninvited guests bearing mistletoe,” the Norse themselves apparently concluded that 13 people at a dinner party is just plain bad luck.
and finally, did you know that…
the Bible tells us there were exactly 13 present at the Last Supper. One of the dinner guests – er, disciples – betrayed Jesus Christ, setting the stage for the Crucifixion.
….and the crucifixion took place on a Friday!
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