Friday the 13th . . .

Posted under Travel Blog by Grootbos on 12th April 2012

Friday the 13th . . . may just be the luckiest day of all at Grootbos!

Are you one of the approximately 21 million people worldwide who suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia - an unnatural fear of Friday the 13th that compels many people to hide under their bed or to even bunk school and work for fear of bad luck?

Then you better watch out - 2012 has THREE such alleged "bad luck days" - exactly 13 weeks apart! If you have survived the first one on Friday 13 January unscathed, you have only to prepare yourself for tomorrow (Friday 13 April) and the last one of the year on Friday 13 July! The good news is that you are not alone! According to Dr. Donald Dossey, a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of phobias and coiner of the term paraskevidekatriaphobia, at least 8% of Americans and millions of other people across the globe are in the grip of this old superstition. Even better news is that Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is immune to bad luck and offers unsurpassable therapeutic benefits guaranteed to help even the worst afflicted sufferer! You can escape this "notoriously unlucky day and number" by arriving at Grootbos on Thursday afternoon. If you are one of those super-cautious paraskevidekatriaphobia sufferers who prefer spending the entire day in the safety of your bed behind locked doors with fingers crossed, you can at least do it in style and luxury by enjoying all-round sea and mountain views and gourmet food served in bed! The reserve has no elevators, skyscrapers or suites featuring the wretched number 13. Neither do we have ladders, breakable mirrors or stray black cats - not even Black Cat peanut butter! The best of all is that we believe Friday and 13 are lucky entities and we have the best ways to prove it and the best medicine to cure all phobia!

This is how you can face and overcome your fears:

Start with a gentle early morning walk along the various pathways that wind through lush fynbos and Milkwood forests. We don't have coconut trees dropping fruit, so you are safe! (Accidental bird droppings are considered good luck!) Progress to a guided 4x4 or horseback ride on the reserve to acquaint yourself with our magnitude of rare bird, plant and animal species - they don't bite or sting, but some do sing! Enjoy a gastronomical breakfast or lunch in the fairytale lapa where the whispers of old ancient Milkwood trees ward off all bad omens. (Our food is delicately spiced, so there's no chance of unfortunate salt-spilling!) Blissfully fortified by food for body, mind and soul, it's time to hop on a boat or a plane to view our beautiful coast and marine life. After an enthralling hour at sea or in the sky, if you are still in one piece and compos mentis, it is time to face the final Friday the 13th fear: Get in a cage for a close-up encounter with the scariest jaws and dagger-like teeth on planet Earth. They DO bite, but not on Friday the 13th for fear of getting heartburn from the excrements of a paraskevidekatriaphobia sufferer . . . Afterwards, when you relax on the deck to champagne-toast the breathtaking sunset over Walker Bay, you might just decide it was your luckiest day ever . . . But then again, you might still be hiding in bed . . . waiting for Saturday to come so that you can embark on the above?

Why are people so scared of Friday the 13th?

The origin of this "most widespread superstition" is uncertain. Determining the origin of all superstitions is, at best, an inexact science and mostly guesswork. There are as many theories and folklores pertaining to this "unluckiest day of all" as there are psychological phobias, superstitions and fears out there. Some of these "forebodings" are quite funny and often prompt hilarious behaviour from people who are susceptible to superstition. Many people would rather risk being hit by a car or a bus on a busy road than to cross underneath a ladder, while others believe a stray black cat crossing your path is an omen of serious mishap. But exactly why the combination of the sixth day of the week and the number 13 portends such severe misfortune to millions of people, is maybe based on something as simple as an innocent fable or folklore that has been stoked to viral proportions by the mass media!

Massacre of the Knights Templars

Wikipedia states one theory is that the stigma came about as a result of a single historical event that happened nearly 700 years ago - the decimation of the Knights Templar, the legendary order of "warrior monks" formed during the Christian Crusades to combat Islam. By the 1300s the order had grown so pervasive and powerful that it was perceived as a political threat by kings and popes alike and brought down by a church-state conspiracy.

On Friday 13 October 1307, officers of King Philip IV of France carried out mass arrests in a dawn raid that left several thousand Templars in chains, charged with heresy, blasphemy, various obscenities and homosexual practices. None of these charges was ever proven, even in France — and the Order was found innocent elsewhere — but in the seven years following the arrests, hundreds of Templars suffered excruciating tortures intended to force "confessions," and more than a hundred died under torture or were executed by burning at the stake.

Modern phenomenon fed by the press

However, if folks in earlier times perceived Friday the 13th as a day of special misfortune, no one has been able to document the existence of such a superstition prior to the late 19th century and no evidence has been found to prove it. Some scholars are now convinced the stigma is a thoroughly modern phenomenon exacerbated by 20th-century media hype following the publication of a novel Friday, the Thirteenth, by Thomas W. Lawson in 1907. The book, all but forgotten now, concerned dirty dealings in the stock market and sold quite well in its day. Both the titular phrase and the phobic premise behind it — namely that superstitious people regard Friday the 13th as a supremely unlucky day — were instantly adopted and popularized by the press. Author Nathaniel Lachenmeyer argues that although it is highly unlikely that Lawson literally invented that premise himself — he treats it within the story as a notion that already existed in the public consciousness — but he most certainly lent it gravitas and set it on a path to becoming the most widespread superstition in modern times.

Whichever way you regard Friday the 13th . . . Grootbos caters for all and we make every day a lucky day!

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