This time of year, I can really feel the darkness. Right now we have only 9 hours of daylight and it is still getting shorter. Well, that is, until the end of next week when we’ll experience the shortest day of the year.
For our ancestors, this time of year was a concern. Nature, so green and welcoming just months before, had become cold, dark and terrifying. The dark months were scary months, a time when everyone knew evil forces were lurking just out of sight. Now add to that the fact that today is a Friday the 13th and the last Friday the 13th for the year.
Going back more than a hundred years, Friday the 13th doesn’t even merit a mention in the 1898 edition of E. Cobham Brewer’s voluminous Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, though one does find entries for “Friday, an Unlucky Day” and “Thirteen Unlucky.” When the date of ill fate finally does make an appearance in later editions of the dictionary, the very brevity of the entry is instructive: “Friday the Thirteenth: A particularly unlucky Friday. See Thirteen” — implying that the extra dollop of misfortune might be accounted for in terms of a simple accrual, as it were, of bad omens:
If folks who lived in earlier ages perceived Friday the 13th as a day of special misfortune, we have yet to find evidence to document it. As a result, some scholars are now convinced the stigma is a thoroughly modern phenomenon exacerbated by 20th-century media hype.
Oh, sure, I’ve also previously written about how Fridays got a bad rap and some historical events that have shown Friday the 13th’s as days that have had catastrophic over tones. But I have not shared the story of the United States and its ties with the number 13.
To follow these next paragraphs, you need to take out a One Dollar Bill and turn it over. On the back of the One Dollar Bill, you will see two circles. Together, they comprise the Great Seal of the United States, very few people know what these symbols mean
The First Continental Congress requested that Benjamin Franklin and a group
of men come up with a Seal. It took them four years to accomplish this
and another two years to get it approved by the Continental Congress. They were a little busy with this thing called the Revolutionary War.
Okay, I’m off on a tangent again. Now look at the left-hand circle, you will see a Pyramid. You will notice the face of the pyramid is in light, and the western side is dark. This represents the fact that our country was just beginning. We had not begun to explore the west or decided what we could do for Western Civilization.
The Pyramid itself is uncapped, again signifying that the United States were not even close to being finished. Inside the capstone you is the all-seeing eye, an ancient symbol for divinity. It was Benjamin Franklin’s belief that one man couldn’t do it alone, but a group of men, with the help of God, could do anything.
The Latin words above the pyramid, ANNUIT COEPTIS, means, ‘God has favored our undertaking.’
The Latin words below the pyramid, NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM, means, ‘a new order has begun.’
At the base of the pyramid is the Roman Numeral for 1776. (MDCCLXXVI)
In God We Trust is in between the two seals on the bill.
Now take a look at the right-hand circle, and check it carefully. This seal appears at every National Cemetery in the United States. It is the centerpiece of most monuments honoring our nation’s heroes. A slightly modified version is used as the seal of the President of the United States.
Now let’s look at the components of the seal. The Bald Eagle was selected as a symbol for victory for two reasons: First, he is not afraid of a storm; he is strong, and he is smart enough to soar above it. Second, he wears no material crown. America had just broken from the King of England. Also, notice that the shield in front of the Eagle is unsupported. This symbolizes that our country could now stand on its own. At the top of that shield you have a white bar signifying congress, a unifying factor. We were coming together as one nation. The banner in the Eagle’s beak are the Latin words, E PLURIBUS UNUM meaning, One From Many.
Above the Eagle is an array of thirteen stars, representing the thirteen original colonies, and surrounding them is an image representing clouds of misunderstanding rolling away. Again, we were coming together as one.
The Eagle holds in its talons an olive branch and arrows, conveying that the United States wants peace, but will never be afraid to fight to preserve peace. The Eagle always faces the olive branch, but in time of war, his gaze is turned toward the arrows.
Now let’s get down to how the number 13 figures into all of this. There are:
On the right left hand seal
13 layers of stone in the pyramid
13 letters in, Annuit Coeptis
13 stars above the Eagle, representing the 13 original colonies
13 stripes on the shield in front of the Eagle.
13 letters in E Pluribus Unum
13 leaves on the olive branch
13 olives on the branch, too
and if you look closely, 13 arrows are clutched in the Eagle’s claw.
And finally, if you notice the arrangement of the 13 stars in the right-hand circle you will see that they are arranged as a Star of David. Few people know that Hayim Solomon, a wealthy Philadelphia Jew, saved the Continental Army through his financial contributions. George Washington asked Solomon, what he
would like as a personal reward for his services to the Continental Army. Solomon said he wanted nothing for himself but that he would like something for
his people. Washington ordered the arrangement of the stars and The Star of David was the result.
One last fact, there were 13 signers for the Declaration of Independence, too.
I have often asked people, ‘Why don’t you know this?’ Your children don’t know this, and unfortunately, their history teachers don’t know this either.
With the number 13 so tied into the symbols of our nation, I would say that none of us really need to worry about a Friday the 13th. But, ultimately, Friday the 13th has more to do with personal experience. People learn at a young age that Friday the 13th is supposed to be unlucky, for whatever reason, and there are many who look for evidence that it is true. The evidence isn’t hard to come by, of course. If you get in a car wreck on one Friday the 13th, lose your wallet, or even spill your coffee, that day will probably stay with you. But if you think about it, bad things, big and small, happen all the time. If you’re looking for bad luck on Friday the 13th, you’ll probably find it. But, rest assured I won’t!
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