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Friday the 13th: “a day so infamous”

Friday the 13th

Fun Facts/Legends About Friday the 13th

Superstition surrounds Friday the 13thThere are several theories about why Friday the 13th has its reputation:

  • The number 13 suffers from its position after 12, according to numerologists who consider the latter to be a complete number — 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Jesus, 12 days of Christmas and 12 eggs in a dozen.
  • It may date back to Biblical times. Some say Friday’s bad reputation goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. It was on a Friday, supposedly, that Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit. Adam bit of the fruit and they were both ejected from Paradise.
  • Tradition also holds that the Great Flood began on a Friday; God tongue-tied the builders of the Tower of Babel on a Friday; the Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday; the 13th guest at the Last Supper betrayed Jesus
  • To the ancient Egyptians, life was a quest for spiritual ascension which unfolded in stages — twelve in this life and a thirteenth 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, we may speculate, only to be corrupted by subsequent cultures who came to associate 13 with a fear of death instead of a reverence for the afterlife.
  • Pythagoras

    Pythagoras

    “You can trace it all the way from the followers of Pythagoras, whose maxim to describe the universe was ‘all is number,'” says Mario Livio, an astrophysicist and author of “The Equation That Couldn’t Be Solved” (Simon & Schuster, 2005). Thinkers who studied under the famous Greek mathematician combined numbers in different ways to explain everything around them, Livio said.

  • The Crucifixion of Jesus is said to have place on a Friday
  • 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 crescent-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 “perfect” number 12 over the “imperfect” number 13, thereafter considered anathema.
  • In pagan Rome, Friday was execution day (later Hangman’s Day in Britain), but in other pre-Christian cultures it was the sabbath, a day of worship, so those who indulged in secular or self-interested activities on that day could not expect to receive blessings from the gods — which may explain the lingering taboo on embarking on journeys or starting important projects on Fridays.
  • Loki, Norse god of evil and trickery

    Loki, Norse god of evil and trickery

    An old Norse tale tells of twelve gods 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.

  • By the Middle Ages, both Friday and 13 were considered bearers of bad fortune.
  • Katharine Kurtz in Tales of the Knights Templar (Warner Books, 1995) wrote:
Knights Templar

Knights Templar

On October 13, 1307, a day so infamous that Friday the 13th would become a synonym for ill fortune, officers of King Philip IV of France carried out mass arrests in a well-coordinated dawn raid that left several thousand Templars — knights, sergeants, priests, and serving brethren — in chains, charged with heresy, blasphemy, various obscenities, and homosexual practices. None of these charges was ever proven, even in France — and the Order was found innocent elsewhere — but in the seven years following the arrests, hundreds of Templars suffered excruciating tortures intended to force “confessions,” and more than a hundred died under torture or were executed by burning at the stake.

  • In 13: The Story of the World’s Most Popular Superstition (Avalon, 2004), author Nathaniel Lachenmeyer argues that the commingling of “unlucky Friday” and “unlucky 13” took place in the pages of a specific literary work, a novel published in 1907 titled — what else? — Friday, the Thirteenth. The book, all but forgotten now, concerned dirty dealings in the stock market and sold quite well in its day. Both the titular phrase and the phobic premise behind it — namely that superstitious people regard Friday the 13th as a supremely unlucky day — were instantly adopted and popularized by the press.

Some other items to ponder…

  • ThirteenA study conducted in the UK regarding Friday the 13th and health yielded some interesting results. Incredibly, they found that in the region sampled, while consistently fewer people chose to drive their cars on Friday the 13th, the number of hospital admissions due to vehicular accidents was significantly higher than on “normal” Fridays. Their conclusion:

“Friday 13th is unlucky for some. The risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52 percent. Staying at home is recommended.”

  • The British Navy is said to have built a ship named Friday the 13th, or the HMS Friday, which on its maiden voyage left dock on a Friday the 13th, and was never heard from again.
  • The HMS Friday story seems to be a legend, however. The Royal Navy Museum states on its web site that this story, which has been told before, is a hoax. “There has never been a Royal Navy ship named HMS Friday – or after any other day of the week for that matter,” the museum states.
  • Apollo 13 crew

    Apollo 13 crew

    The ill-fated Apollo 13 launched at 13:13 CST on Apr. 11, 1970. The sum of the date’s digits (4-11-70) is 13 (as in 4+1+1+7+0 = 13). And the explosion that crippled the spacecraft occurred on April 13 (not a Friday). The crew did make it back to Earth safely, however.

  • Many hospitals have no room 13, while some tall buildings skip the 13th floor.
  • Fear of Friday the 13th — one of the most popular myths in science — is called paraskavedekatriaphobia as well as friggatriskaidekaphobia. Triskaidekaphobia is fear of the number 13.
  • Quarterback Dan Marino wore No. 13 throughout his career with the Miami Dolphins. Despite being a superb quarterback (some call him one of the best ever), he got to the Super Bowl just once, in 1985, and was trounced 38-16 by the San Francisco 49ers and Joe Montana (who wore No. 16 and won all four Super Bowls he played in).
  • Butch Cassidy

    Butch Cassidy

    Butch Cassidy, notorious American train and bank robber, was born on Friday, April 13, 1866.

  • Fidel Castro was born on Friday, Aug. 13, 1926.
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt would not travel on the 13th day of any month and would never host 13 guests at a meal. Napoleon and Herbert Hoover were also triskaidekaphobic, with an abnormal fear of the number 13.
  • Superstitious diners in Paris can hire a quatorzieme, or professional 14th guest.
  • Mark Twain once was the 13th guest at a dinner party. A friend warned him not to go. “It was bad luck,” Twain later told the friend. “They only had food for 12.”
  • Woodrow Wilson considered 13 his lucky number, though his experience didn’t support such faith. He arrived in Normandy, France on Friday, Dec. 13, 1918, for peace talks, only to return with a treaty he couldn’t get Congress to sign. (The ship’s crew wanted to dock the next day due to superstitions.) He toured the United States to rally support for the treaty, and while traveling, suffered a near-fatal stroke.
  • Eagle seal on the back of a dollar bill

    Eagle seal on the back of a dollar bill

    The seals on the back of a dollar bill include 13 steps on the pyramid, 13 stars above the eagle’s head, 13 war arrows in the eagle’s claw and 13 leaves on the olive branch. So far there’s been no evidence tying these long-ago design decisions to the present economic situation.

 

Special thanks to livescience.com and urbanlegends.about.com

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The “Ice Bowl”: One of NFL’s Most Historic Games

 

A victorious Vince Lombardi is held above Lambeau Stadium

A victorious Vince Lombardi is held above Lambeau Stadium

Fun Facts About NFL’s “Ice Bowl”

 

Where and When?

January 1, 1967 at Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin

What was the significance of the game?

This was the 1967 National Football League Championship Game.  The winner of this would go on to play the winner of the American Football League (AFL) in Super Bowl II.

What was the final score?

Packers, 21, Cowboys, 17

What 2 famous future NFL Hall of Fame coaches were pitted against each other?

Tom Landry (Cowboys) and Vince Lombardi (Packers)

The Two Star Quarterbacks:  "Dandy" Don Meredith and Bart Starr

The Two Star Quarterbacks: "Dandy" Don Meredith and Bart Starr

The game became known as the “Ice Bowl” because the field was a sheet of ice and the air temperature at game time was -13 Fahrenheit. What extraordinary measure had been used to try to keep the field playable?

Warming it with an underground electric heating grid.  Packer coach Vince Lombardi had purchased a system of heating coils that were implanted six inches under the field. The coils were intended to keep the ground warm enough to ward off freezing. In “When Pride Still Mattered,” a biography of Lombardi, author Dave Maraniss suggested that the problem came about because of the tarpaulin covering the field. The warm air under the tarp formed condensation, which froze immediately upon exposure to the extremely cold air.

How did Cowboy receiver Bob Hayes help the Packer defense throughout the game?

He kept his hands in his pants. Varying accounts exist of whether Hayes kept his hands in his pants only when the Cowboys were running the ball, or for all plays for which he wasn’t the receiver. But whatever the account, Hayes was the Cowboys’ best receiver, he frequently kept his hands in his pants, and this would let the Packer defense know they didn’t need to worry about him for the play.

How cold were conditions that day?

All of these (CBS sportscaster Frank Gifford said, “I think I’ll take another bite of my coffee”, An official tore the skin off his lip when his metal whistle froze to it, The halftime show was cancelled when the marching band scheduled to play found that its instruments were unplayable). After several officials had problems with their whistles, the officiating crew stopped using them and relied only on voice commands. At least Gifford was in a broadcast booth, and the halftime musicians got to go home early.

Which uncharacteristic miscues by the Packers led to the first 10 points for the Cowboys?

Fumbles. The warm-weather Cowboys eventually adjusted to the cold better than the Packers did. After Green Bay had built a 14-0 lead on two Bart Starr passes to Boyd Dowler, the Cowboys’ George Andrie recovered a Starr fumble and ran it seven yards for the Cowboys’ first touchdown. Later in the second quarter, the Packers’ Willie Wood fumbled a punt and the Cowboys recovered, leading to a field goal that sent them into the warm locker room at halftime trailing only 14-10.

How did Cowboys’ halfback Dan Reeves figure in the touchdown that put his team ahead 17-14?

He threw a pass for the touchdown. Reeves, later a successful NFL coach, threw a 50-yard halfback option pass to Lance Rentzel in the end zone, giving the Cowboys a 17-14 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter.

A month after the game, Vince Lombardi announced his retirement from coaching, making this the last game he coached in Green Bay. For what Packer player was this the last game he played in Green Bay?

Fuzzy Thurston. After playing for two seasons for the Baltimore Colts, Thurston played the remainder of his NFL career from 1959-67, for Green Bay. Hornung was picked up from Green Bay by New Orleans in the 1967 expansion draft, but retired before ever playing for the Saints. Kramer and Starr retired from the Packers and the NFL in 1968 and 1971 respectively. Besides Thurston, this was also the last game in Green Bay for receiver Max McGee and kicker Don Chandler, two other players who played vital roles in the Packers’ title teams.

The Packers won the game on Bart Starr’s quarterback sneak. The play called in the huddle was “31 Wedge.” As the “31 Wedge” play was written, who was intended to carry the ball?

Chuck Mercein. The play was designed to be a handoff to Mercein. This is another moment from the Ice Bowl for which accounts differ as to what actually happened. David Maraniss writes in, “When Pride Still Mattered”, that Starr fearing Mercein slipping before he could take the ball, decided to keep the ball himself but didn’t tell anyone else. Accounts by Jerry Kramer and others described Starr announcing a quarterback sneak in the huddle. No matter what though, as written in the Packers’ playbook, the “31 Wedge” play was designed to be a handoff to the fullback, who on that play was Mercein.

In the famous photograph of Bart Starr’s winning touchdown, Chuck Mercein can be seen with both hands in the air. He later said that he was not signaling a touchdown. Why did he say his hands were in the air?

To show that he did not push Starr. It would have been illegal to assist Starr by pushing him, so Mercein threw his hands in the air as if to say “look ref, no hands!”

What was later shown to have happened on Starr’s touchdown that could have changed the game’s outcome?

Jerry Kramer was offside. In a frame by frame analysis of that play, Kramer can be seen lifting his hand while the ball remains on the ground awaiting the snap. Even Kramer wrote “I wouldn’t swear that I wasn’t actually offside on the play.” Many Packer fans argue though that Donnie Anderson made it into the end zone on the previous play (the officials spotted the ball about two feet outside the end zone though). In fact, Jethro Pugh, the Cowboy blocked to make room for Starr’s score, supported this theory, saying that most of the Cowboys thought Anderson had scored.

The dramatic ending of the game helped provide the name of the book that Jerry Kramer and Dick Schaap wrote, based on Kramer’s diary of the season. What was the book’s title?

Instant Replay. The replays of Starr’s touchdown, and of Kramer’s block on the play, helped make Kramer much more of a celebrity than linemen usually get to be. “Instant Replay” was released the following year and became one of the best-selling sports books in history. In the locker room after the game, Kramer dissuaded center Ken Bowman, also instrumental in the block, from joining him on camera for a television interview. Kramer argued that he was old and that Bowman’s day of glory would come. Little did Bowman realize how rare such recognition is for a center, or that after that season’s Super Bowl, he would play in exactly one more playoff game in his career.

VIDEO:  The Story of the Ice Bowl

Special thanks to funtrivia.com and wikipedia.com

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