March 13, 2020
Day 73 of 366
March 13th is the seventy-third day of the year. It is National Elephant Day in Thailand.
It is also the first Friday the 13th in 2020.
In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Good Samaritan Day, National Coconut Torte Day, National Earmuff Day, National Jewel Day, National K9 Veterans Day, National Open an Umbrella Indoors Day, and National Blame Someone Else Day. That last one is typically observed on the first Friday the 13th of the Year.
Historical items of note:
- In 1781, William Herschel discovered Uranus.
- In 1855, astronomer and mathematician Percival Lowell was born.
- In 1862, the Act Prohibiting the Return of Slaves was passed by the United States Congress. This effectively annulled the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and set the way forward for the Emancipation Proclamation later that year.
- In 1930, the news of the discovery of Pluto was announced by Lowell Observatory.
- In 1956, actress and producer Dana Delany was born.
- In 1969, Apollo 9 returned safely to Earth after testing the Lunar Module.
- In 2014, Captain America: The Winter Soldier premiered in Los Angeles, California. It is one of my favorites in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
This year, March 13th is the first Friday the 13th out of two.
The day is considered to be an unlucky one in Western superstition. It happens at least once annually – it occurs during any month that starts on a Sunday – but can happen up to three times in one year. The last time that three of them occurred in one year was 2015, and the next one will happen in 2026.
The irrational fear of the number thirteen is known as triskaidekaphobia, and the associated fear of Friday the 13th is paraskevidekatriaphobia. The superstition may have started in the Middle Ages, presumably from the biblical story of The Last Supper during which thirteen individuals were present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan (Maundy Thursday), the night before Jesus was crucified (Good Friday).
Historically, there are accounts of both Friday and the number 13 being unlucky, but the combination of the two wasn’t mentioned before the 19th century. Additional fuel may have been poured on the fire with Thomas W. Larson’s 1907 novel, Friday, the Thirteenth, in which a corrupt broker takes advantage of the superstition to panic Wall Street on the same date.
There’s also a popular horror film franchise, Friday the 13th, that started in 1980. Twelve films, one television series, novels, comics, and several video games later, and the icon of a serial killer in a hockey mask has become synonymous with the supposed misfortune of the date.
Ki ki ki ma ma ma…
For what it’s worth, Fridays the 13th have treated me rather well.
The next Friday the 13th will be in November.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.