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Cultural Superstition - Essay Example

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Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Cultural Superstition Superstition may be defined as the belief in paranormal myths. It holds that an occurrence can lead to the cause of another one in the absence of any physical or logical process linking them. They contradict the laws of natural science and have no rational basis…
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Cultural Superstition

Download file to see previous pages... I will discuss the myth associating the number 13 to bad luck, and even more recently extending it to Friday the 13th being unlucky (Vyse 21). Even people and societies who claim not to have superstitious inclinations are prone to do some things they cannot explain, like hanging on to the fear of the number 13. It is such a widespread phenomenon that has its own name; triskaidekaphobia (Weisstein 1). I learned of the superstition as a child in the junior school through narratives and story books. I also encountered it practically on a public transport bus. The passenger seats were numbered from one to 62, but without any explanation, there was no seat number 13. As expressed in numerology, the number 12 is viewed as a symbol of completeness. Going forth to number 13 is seen as an irregular transgression. This can be shown in examples such as the 12 gods of Olympus, 12 months of the year, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 hours of the clock, 12 Disciples of Jesus, 12 signs of the Zodiac and Muhammad’s successors in Shia Islam (Wilson and Reill 31). Among the many origins of the superstition, some date back to the biblical days of Jesus Christ and His 12 disciples (Turcan 10). In Christian theology, there were 13 people at the Last Supper before Jesus Christ was betrayed. Further linking the misfortunes of number 13 to Friday, after the betrayal, Jesus Christ died on a Friday. Ironically, Judas Iscariot, who was the betrayer, was the 13th person to take his place at the dinner table. This myth is still held today that if there at 13 people having a meal together, it will lead to the death of one of them (Turcan 12). Still on Biblical times, even before the birth of Jesus Christ, there were only 12 tribes of Israel, which bears His ancestry (Turcan 12). In the Norse mythology, 12 benevolent gods were sitting in a gathering in a hall (Vyse 29). Then the evil, uninvited god, Loki, turned up and attacked them. Loki happened to be the 13th person to arrive at the gathering, and his attack led to the death of the god named Balder. Balder’s death eventually resulted to the deaths of several other gods, a chain of natural disasters and the abolition of all things on earth except for two humans who survived. Although this is only a myth, it emphasizes the swing of misfortunes that followed the arrival of the 13th person at an otherwise peaceful gathering (Wilson and Reill 14). History also has records that the superstition is also upheld by the high in society. Among these dignitaries was American President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was rather fearful of the number 13, that he took extensive measures to steer clear of hosting a meal that had 13 guests. He would invite his secretary, even though not necessary to non state functions, to increase the number from 13 to 14 (Vyse 25). In the traditional Roman Empire, there were 13 steps of the stairs leading up to the gallows. The legend also offers that the hangman’s noose traditionally had 13 turns. These two notions present a direct link to death with number 13 (Turcan 12). Further on the connection of 13th to Friday, in the year 1307, there occurred a mass arrest followed by executions of the Knights Templar on Friday, October 13th (Weisstein 1). The arrests, which took place in France, were allegedly financially motivated by the royal bureaucracy under Philip IV to raise the prestige associated with the crown. Although it is widely accepted that this is a relatively recent observation, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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