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Last updateFri, 10 Aug 2018 3pm

13: Bad luck in any language

Friday the 13th has been associated with evil, the unknown and just plain bad luck in Western culture for centuries.

But most Mexican are blissfully unconcerned about the perceived disasters associated with this day. They fear another date on the calendar – one that is coming up next week.

Bad-luck day in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries falls on Tuesday the 13th, martes trece.

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Legends abound as to why 13 represents bad luck and why it’s even worse on a Friday. According to one, Phillip le Bel, a corrupt, medieval king of France, ordered the incarceration of Knights Templar, a special order of knights charged with the protection of pilgrims on the road. The evil act took place on Friday the 13th. Another legend is biblical. Thirteen people shared the last supper of Jesus on a Friday, the traditional Jewish Sabbath, which began at sunset. The first one to leave, Judas Iscariot, not only betrayed Jesus, he also committed suicide. In a Norse custom, people offered the love goddess, Freyja, a sacrifice of fish on the sixth day of the week, Friday. Eating red meat on that day was associated with bad luck. Norsemen could eat any seaborne creature, however. The Catholic church, looking to integrate more of Europe under its standard, adopted the practice.

But why is Tuesday, and not Friday, the unluckiest day for Spanish speaking nations? First of all, Marte is Spanish for Mars. Mars is the god of war in Greek mythology, so any number of calamities or evil things can happen on a Tuesday -- still worse if it’s the 13th. Legend also says that the language confusion at the tower of Babel occurred on a Tuesday the 13th. Therefore, no one should move, marry, date or even get a hair cut on a Tuesday. You’ve been warned.

Just in case you want to know or feel the need to protect yourself with a rabbit’s foot, a horseshoe or that lucky (hole-ridden) pair of drawers, there will be two more Fridays the 13th this year, in April and July, and the same number of Tuesdays with that unlucky number: one in March and another in November. Take heed and take cover. Good luck.

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