Today is Tuesday the 13th, and in Spain that carries the same ominous warnings as Friday the 13th does in Anglo-Saxon culture.
For the superstitous minded, this is the day when any local will tell you: “Martes ni te cases ni te embarques ni de tu casa te apartes” ( on Tuesday dont get married, dont go by boat and dont leave the house”
You might add walking close to overhead flower pots.
Like the Friday 13th date, the origins of this fear has been obscured over the centuries, but there are a few pointers as to why Tuesday the 13th has been so damned.
The Spanish days of the week have their roots in Roman mythology with the word for Tuesday, martes, coming from the Roman God of War, Mars. For many the spectre of war, death, destruction, blood and violence still looms heavily over the day.
The Romans were of course heavily influenced by the Greeks – who were no fans of the number 13.
Indeed in their ordered world it’s a number that follows the perfection of number 12: The gods of Olympus were 12, then there are 12 months in a year, 12 hours of the day, 12 hours of night, the 12 labours of Hercules and 12 signs of the zodiac.
Then Philip II of Macedonia died right after he erected his statue next to the 12 gods!
In the western Christian tradition there is the Last Supper of Jesus, in which his disciple, Judas, was the 13th guest and who the Bible tells us was responsible for betraying him.
In the the Book of Revelations, or the Apocalypse, the 13th chapter tells of the coming of the Antichrist.
In the Jewish Kabbalah, there are 13 malevolent spirits while in Scandinavian mythology, the God of Evil, Loki, was the 13th guest invited to dinner in Valhalla.
In history, such events as the fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade on Tuesday April 13th 1204 and its later and final fall to the Ottomans on Tuesday May 29th 1453 happened.
Fear of the number 13 even has a scientific name: “triskaidekaphobia” and on analogy to this the fear of Friday the 13th is called “paraskevidekatriaphobia” – so for those fearing impending doom – best stay at home and in the strictest isolation.
Feliz Martes Trece!