Why 13? Well, that's probably not a surprise to anyone. The number 13 is considered bad luck across a lot of cultures. From Christianity, the superstition allegedly comes from the last supper where there were 12 disciples and Christ. With Judas being a traitor, he became the thirteenth person, the unlucky guest. What's more the antichrist appears in the 13th chapter of the apocalypse. But it's not just Christianity. The Jewish Kabbala and Nordic traditions associate 13 with the number of bad spirits. (For example, Loki, the bad spirit, is the thirteenth.) And in the Tarot, the number 13 refers to death.
|Norse spirit, Loki, the unlucky number 13.|
|Tarot card "XIII," death, bearer of grim tidings.|
Americans are familiar with this numerological superstition, not only for Friday the 13th. Fear of the number 13 even has a name: Triskaidekaphobia. (Fear of Friday the thirteenth being, "friggatriskaidekaphobia.") Hotels are known to skip the thirteenth floor in numbering them. And people will often avoid purchasing seats located in aisle 13, and so on.
|Mars, the Roman god on his war chariot.|
All of this said, my general impression is that in Spain "Martes y 13" is more of a joke than a superstition. (Compare, for cross-cultural consideration, the 1962 Spanish comedy movie "Martes y trece" with the 1980 American horror film "Friday the 13th.") Indeed, "Martes y trece" was the name of a famous Spanish comedic trio, then duo in the 1980s and 1990s—Josema Yuste, Millán Salcedo and Fernando Conde (Conde left in the mid eighties)—who have long since parted ways. From '88 to '97 Yuste and Salcedo as "Martes y trece" were the hosts of the New Year's broadcast for Televisión Española's channel 1 ("La 1").
|1962 comedy "Martes y trece" with important |
Spanish actress Concha Velasco
|DVD release of 1980 "Friday the 13th," |
dark American horror film.
So humor more than dread surrounds this day. I don't know anyone who reschedules a trip on Tuesday the 13th (and who ever marries on a Tuesday anyway?). Whenever the 13th lands on a Tuesday, it seems more an opportunity for people to recite with glee some variation on this refrain:
Martes y 13, Tuesday the 13th,
ni te cases ni te embarques, you shouldn't marry or embark on a journey,
ni de tu familia/casa te apartes. nor part yourself from your family/home.
Practice it and surprise your Spanish friends and co-workers with it tomorrow.
Apparently this Tuesday the 13th lore is not just limited to Spain, but also in Latin America (presumably because of Spanish influence) and… Greece! Here are some funny variations on the above refrain I found mentioned in an Argentinian journal: “El martes... ni gallina eches, ni hija cases"; “El martes... ni hijo cases, ni cochino mates"; and “El martes... ni tu casa mudes, ni tu hija cases, ni tu ropa tejas”.