IT is a day historically considered to be a harbinger of bad luck, but where does the dark shadow looming over Friday the 13th originate?
It’s Friday the 13th!
Yes, it’s today, if you had not already realised. The more superstitious among us may take particular care not to walk under any ladders or break a mirror today of all days, aware that this date carries with it the portent of bad luck.
It is not certain exactly when this gloomy tradition took flight, but negative superstitions have been associated with the number 13 for centuries. In fact, many relate it back to the bible when 13 attended The Last Supper – Jesus and his 12 disciples, with Judas – who betrayed Jesus – said to be the 13th guest to sit down at the table. Meanwhile, in Norse mythology, a dinner party of the gods was ruined by an uninvited 13th guest – Loki – who caused the world to fall into darkness after shooting a god of gladness, Balder the Beautiful.
And a Friday came into it when…?
…if you date back to Christian tradition, it is said Jesus was crucified on a Friday, while Friday was also said to be the day Eve gave Adam the apple from the Tree of Knowledge and was also the fateful day Cain killed his brother, Abel.
Telling a tale?
In Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, written in the 14th Century, he says “and on a Friday fell all this mischance”.
In the movies?
Friday the 13th is also an American horror franchise, featuring 12 slasher films, a TV series, books, games and comics, focusing on the fictional character of Jason, thought to have drowned as a boy at summer camp, with the lake the focus of murders in later years. The movies have grossed over $468 million at the box-office worldwide.
How often does Friday the 13th fall?
The 13th falls on a Friday in any month beginning on a Sunday, taking place at least once a year, with today this year’s only Friday the 13th, while two are due next year, on January 13 and October 13.
In Spanish-speaking countries, instead of Fridays, Tuesday the 13th is considered a day of bad luck. The Greeks also consider Tuesdays unlucky, notably any Tuesday the 13th.
It could be fairly simple?
Thomas Fernsler, an associate policy scientist at the University of Delaware in the United States – who also goes by the name ‘Dr 13’, believes 13 is regarded as unlucky simply because it follows the “perfect” number 12. With 12 months in a year, 12 zodiac signs, 12 apostles and 12 tribes of Israel, he argues that 13 is therefore seen as “unlucky”, telling National Geographic it “is a little beyond completeness”.
Fear of Friday the 13th is a diagnosed condition, known as ‘Paraskavedekatriaphobia’, which might also spark fear in those trying to pronounce it.
How can you hold on to your luck?
Who knows? Old wives’ tales suggest everything from keeping fingers crossed, knocking on wood and finding a four-leaf clover, to sleeping facing south, wearing your clothes inside out and walking in the rain. Take care out there regardless!