Thought I'd start again on a somewhat lighter topic - quaint festivals and practices. It struck me (and no doubt a few million others) that this year, Friday 13th was the day before Valentine's Day. What a contrast of moods these two days invoke.
The first is associated with ghosts, ghouls, monsters, serial-killers, gruesome mutilations, lots of blood and other scary stuff. The date itself, Friday 13th, happens once or twice a year and as far as I can find out it is considered by some folk to be "unlucky" although a few people I asked don't seem to know exactly why*. Some extremely superstitious people don't even want to leave the house on such days for fear that something bad will happen to them! And of course Hollywood has done its part to capitalise on this infamous day with a seemingly never-ending series of popular horror flicks - like "Friday the 13th - Part 145" ...
The other festival, Valentine's Day, is usually linked with romantic love, giving of roses, chocolates and cards between love-struck individuals (as they make goo-goo eyes at each other) The symbols associated with Valentine's Day are the heart and Cupid (that naked little angel, armed with bow & arrow to supposedly link hearts together with well-placed shots). Although the origin of the festival stems from an ancient Christian martyr named Valentine, I believe that in modern times this festival transcends religions and is almost global, bolstered by blatant commercialisation driven by confectionery, card and gift companies. Each year on or before Feb 14th, millions of cards and candy are purchased and presented, and many candle-lit dinners are consumed - representing a nice economic spike for the respective industries.
So there you have it. Two very different festivals, one driven by fear, the other by desire - both extremely powerful human emotions. Despite my natural skepticism about both festivals, I must admit that in the current economic doldrums that we are all in, perhaps creating a few more of such emotionally-charged days may not be so bad after all.
Finally, what can one do with Friday 13th falling just one day before Valentine's Day, as is the case this year? Well, one movie title I saw recently seemed to capture and creatively integrate the two moods. The movie was called "My Bloody Valentine". I believe the latest rendition (to be released in Feb 2009) is a remake of a Canadian slasher film of 1981 (the original poster is shown, with the tagline "There's more than one way to lose your heart ..."
* My further research found this out: In numerology, 12 is a number of completeness (eg 12 apostles of Jesus, 12 months of year, 12 zodiac signs etc), so 13 is considered irregular - transgressing the completeness. Friday has in the past been considered unluckier than the other days of the week for travelling or beginning new projects. In more recent times, witness Black Friday which is associated with stock market crashes. Also Jesus was supposedly crucified on a Friday. Another story tells of the Knights Templar being arrested in France by King Philip on Friday 13th Oct 1307.