Relating to unhealthy luck, there are few superstitions as pervasive in Western tradition as that of Friday the thirteenth. Like crossing paths with a black cat and breaking a mirror, the notion of a day that may convey misfortune is deeply embedded — even when believers cannot fairly clarify why.
There’s even a reputation to explain the irrational dread of the date: paraskevidekatriaphobia — a specialised type of triskaidekaphobia, a concern of the quantity 13.
Whereas Friday the thirteenth might really feel like a uncommon phenomenon, our Gregorian calendar signifies that the thirteenth of any month is barely extra seemingly to fall on a Friday than every other day of the week. It’s not, nonetheless, a common superstition: In Greece and Spanish-speaking nations, it’s Tuesday the thirteenth that’s thought of a day of unhealthy luck, whereas in Italy, it’s Friday the seventeenth that’s met with concern.
This month, nonetheless, there is just one within the calendar: Friday, the thirteenth of January.
The makings of a superstition
The Final Supper appeared to place a curse on the quantity 13: The thirteenth and most notorious visitor to reach, Judas Iscariot, was the disciple who betrayed Jesus, resulting in his crucifixion. Credit score: Roberto Serra/Iguana Press/Getty Photographs
Like many superstitions which have advanced over time and throughout cultures, it’s tough to pinpoint the exact origins of Friday thirteenth. What we do know, although, is that each Friday and the quantity 13 have been considered unfortunate in sure cultures all through historical past. In his ebook “Extraordinary Origins of On a regular basis Issues,” Charles Panati traces the idea of the cursed again to Norse mythology, when Loki, the god of mischief, gate-crashed a banquet in Valhalla, bringing the variety of gods in attendance to 13. Deceived by Loki, the blind god Hodr was tricked into capturing his brother Balder, the god of sunshine, pleasure and goodness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow, killing him immediately.
From Scandinavia, Panati explains, the superstition then unfold south all through Europe, turning into effectively established alongside the Mediterranean by the beginning of the Christian period. It was right here that the unsettling energy of the numerals was cemented by way of the story of the Final Supper, which was attended by Jesus Christ and his disciples on Maundy Thursday. The thirteenth and most notorious visitor to reach, Judas Iscariot, was the disciple who betrayed Jesus, resulting in his crucifixion on Good Friday.
Lots of of the Knights Templar have been arrested on October 13, 1307, and plenty of have been later executed. Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” popularized the inaccurate idea that is the unique of the Friday the thirteenth superstition. Credit score: /Hulton Archive/Getty Photographs
In Biblical custom, the idea of unfortunate Fridays, stretches again even additional than the crucifixion: Friday is claimed to be the day that Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Information; the day Cain murdered his brother, Abel; the day the Temple of Solomon was toppled; and the day Noah’s ark set sail within the Nice Flood.
It wasn’t till the nineteenth century, nonetheless, that Friday thirteenth turned synonymous with misfortune: As Steve Roud explains in “The Penguin Information to the Superstitions of Britain and Eire,” the mix of Friday and the quantity 13 is a Victorian invention. In 1907, the publication of Thomas W. Lawson’s fashionable novel “Friday, the Thirteenth” captured the creativeness with its story of an unscrupulous dealer who took benefit of the superstitions across the date to intentionally crash the inventory market.
Within the Eighties, superstition went pop with the launch of the “Friday the thirteenth” slasher franchise, starring hockey-masked killer Jason Voorhees. Credit score: Alamy
Quick ahead to the Eighties, and a hockey-masked killer by the title of Jason Voorhees within the slasher flick franchise “Friday the thirteenth” ensured notoriety. Then got here Dan Brown’s 2003 novel “The Da Vinci Code,” which helped popularize the wrong declare that the superstition originated with the arrests of a whole lot of members of the Knights Templar on Friday, October 13, 1307.
An alternate historical past
Given the mass of doom-laden lore, you would be forgiven for pondering that Friday thirteenth is certainly ominous. If we dig deeper, although, we additionally discover proof that each Fridays and the quantity 13 have lengthy been considered a harbinger of fine fortune. In pagan instances, for example, Friday was believed to have a novel affiliation with the divine female. The primary clue can truly be discovered within the weekday title Friday, which is derived from Previous English and means “day of Frigg.” Each Queen of Asgard and a strong sky goddess in Norse mythology, Frigg (often known as Frigga) was related to love, marriage and motherhood.
Frigg gave safety to houses and households, maintained social order, and will weave destiny as she did the clouds. She additionally possessed the artwork of prophecy, and will bestow or take away fertility. Then again, Freyja, the goddess of affection, fertility and battle with whom Frigg was typically conflated, was endowed with the ability to carry out magic, predict the longer term, and decide who would die in battles, and was stated to experience a chariot pulled by two black cats. These goddesses have been worshiped broadly throughout Europe and, due to these associations, Friday was thought of a fortunate day for marriage by Norse and Teutonic folks.
The Venus of Laussel clutches a crescent-shaped horn bearing 13 notches — a possible reference to lunar and menstrual cycles. Credit score: Training Photographs/Common Photographs Group/Getty Photographs
The quantity 13, in the meantime, has lengthy been regarded as a portentous quantity by pre-Christian and goddess-worshipping cultures for its hyperlink to the variety of lunar and menstrual cycles that happen in a calendar yr. Fertility was prized in pagan instances, and art work would typically draw connections to menstruation, fertility and the phases of the moon.
Take the Venus of Laussel, an roughly 25,000-year-old limestone carving depicting a voluptuous feminine determine cradling her pregnant abdomen with one hand, and holding a crescent-shaped horn bearing 13 notches within the different. Many students imagine the figurine might have represented a goddess of fertility in a ritual or ceremony, whereas the 13 traces are usually learn as a reference to the lunar or menstrual cycle, each of which symbolize female energy.
Rewriting a fame
As Christianity gained momentum within the Center Ages, nonetheless, paganism stood at odds with the brand new patriarchal religion. Not solely did its leaders take objection to the worship of a number of gods and goddesses, however the celebration of Friday, the quantity 13, and the goddesses who invoked love, intercourse, fertility, magic and pleasure have been deemed unholy.
So revered have been these deities, although, that making folks relinquish them proved an actual problem. However Christian authorities continued with their marketing campaign, branding each the deities and the ladies who worshiped them witches.
“When Norse and Germanic tribes transformed to Christianity, Frigga was banished in disgrace to a mountaintop and labeled a witch,” Panati writes. “It was believed that each Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a gathering with eleven different witches, plus the satan — a gathering of 13 — and plotted sick turns of destiny for the approaching week.”
Early in her profession, Taylor Swift would typically carry out with the quantity 13 — which the singer considers fortunate — written on her hand. Credit score: Larry Busacca/Getty Photographs
As of late, after all, Friday the thirteenth nonetheless haunts the Western creativeness. However with conversations across the position misogyny has performed in silencing highly effective girls all through historical past now within the mainstream, maybe the narrative of this unfortunate date and the feminine deities related to it’d quickly be rewritten.
The tide might have already began to show: Take Taylor Swift, who considers 13 her fortunate quantity and, early in her profession, typically carried out with the quantity written on her hand.
With extra endorsements like this, fortune, somewhat than concern, would possibly effectively change into the legacy of Friday the thirteenth.