The accursed black cat, or gato negro. From Wikia.

Quick! Touch your left breast or your testicle. Cancel all wedding plans. Do not get on a plane. Lock the doors and stay inside. It’s Tuesday the thirteenth.

In Argentina, as in Spain and multiple parts of Latin America, Tuesday 13th is a day of bad luck. It’s considered unwise by many to board a plane, start a new business, or doing anything of any great importance, for fear it will end in ruin or tragedy. For the truly superstitious, cooking pancakes, cleaning the house with vinegar and burning palo santo are considered ways to ward off the evil eye.

Many find these superstitions frustrating, evidence of a paranoid, delusional way of thinking. Just check out Osvaldo Pepe in Clarín today, who describes superstitions as the “decline of intelligence,” one “that doesn’t accept a dreary destiny, instead wanting to make others responsible as bearers of bitter omens.” He makes reference to the famous Argentine musical Jettatore – both a play and a film, which centers on the hapless Don Lucas, who is made to believe he is jinxed, a yeta (or mufa, as they say in lunfardo) – and asks, how many people have had their lives “ruined” by “perverse rumor-mongering?” The author, Gregorio de Laferrère, who wrote the play in the early 1900s, has given his name to one of the poorest, most marginalized suburbs in all the conurbano. Chance? asks Pepe, who decides to leave the question for  another day.

The 1938 film version
The 1938 film version


However, there’s no doubt that superstitions – which recur in various forms across time and continents – link us to our deepest, most distant past. And, for all our belief in reason and rationality, superstitious strains of thought lie just beneath the surface of even the most careful thinker.

But why is it believed that Tuesday the 13th brings mala suerte? There’s a few possible theories. And yes, they’re definitely theories.

The Last Supper had a guest list of thirteen…

And the thirteenth man who sat down to sup at the table of traitors was none other than Judas Iscariot.

There were thirteen people at the Last Supper. Photo by artist Marcos Lopez .
There were thirteen people at the Last Supper. Photo by artist Marcos Lopez .

There’s also a Norse myth that says something similar…

There were twelve seated at a Norse banquet in Valhalla, then that mischievous Loki came along and things turned sour.

In a Tarot deck, the thirteenth card is death

Death, Visconti-Sforza tarot deck, from Wikipedia
Death, Visconti-Sforza tarot deck, from Wikipedia

The Knights Templar were arrested or massacred on the 13th day 

These medieval Christian Knights, who some believe had discovered the Holy Grail, but who were probably actually “extremely boring Roman Catholics,” were apparently arrested or massacred on Friday October 13th, 1307.

The fear originates in a book called Friday, The Thirteenth, published in 1907

According to National Geographic, this is the most likely origin of the superstition. Prior to its release, “13” and “Friday” had been considered unlucky on their own, but never together.

Of course, in Argentina Tuesday and not Friday is considered unlucky. So where does unlucky Tuesday come from?

Constantinople fell on a Tuesday

The 29th of May 1453 to be precise, a profoundly traumatic event for Christians.

Also, add the numbers 1,4,5,3 together…

In any case, the government is encouraged not to introduce any news bills to the Chamber of Deputies today, though it’s doubtful their luck could be any worse at this moment in time.