for National Geographic News
Mothers giving birth tomorrow might be tempted to check their newborn for any unusual birthmarks you know, just to be sure.
Such is the hype surrounding the sixth day of the sixth month of the year '06. A significant date for superstitious souls, 666 is the "number of the Beast," as mentioned in the Bible's Book of Revelation.
So it's a day of trepidation for some people, perhaps, but an excellent marketing opportunity for the remake of the 1976 horror movie The Omen, which uncoincidentally opens tomorrow.
The film features Damien, an antichrist figure with the triple-digit mark of the devil hidden beneath his hair. (Related: "Horror, Japanese Style: Beyond 'The Grudge'" .)
In Europe, North America, and elsewhere there have been reports of expectant mothers hoping to avoid giving birth on the supposedly ill-starred day.
Pregnant women have been discussing the approaching date in forums of the Web site of Mother & Baby, a British parenting magazine.
"Keeping my legs well crossed that day," writes Emma Robertson, whose baby is due on June 10.
"I have just found out its going to be a boy," says another forum member, whose baby is due tomorrow. "If it's born on its due date [I] think I might call him Damien."
If these women don't appear to be taking the idea of spawning devil children too seriously, a survey in Texas by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram suggests some real concern among expectant mothers.
"I'm going to be induced on the fourth or fifth," Carrie McFarland from Dallas told the newspaper. "If my doctor had offered to induce me on the sixth, I wouldn't have done it."
Angela Dubose-Davidson of Fort Worth told the newspaper, "I'm a Christian, and that number has significant occult meaning behind it of a negative nature."
SOURCES AND RELATED WEB SITES