The number 13 is probably the most common of all superstitions. Buildings avoid numbering the 13th floor. Airplanes avoid the 13th aisle. Friday the 13th is considered the unluckiest of days in many superstitions.
The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia, a specialized form of triskaidekaphobia, a phobia of the number thirteen.
The fear of Friday the 13th stems from two separate fears — the fear of the number 13 and the fear of Fridays. Both fears have deep roots in Western culture, most notably in Christian theology.
Thirteen is significant to Christians because it is the number of people who were present at the Last Supper (Jesus and his 12 apostles). Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th member of the party to arrive. Christians have also traditionally been wary of Fridays because Jesus was crucified on a Friday. Additionally, some theologians hold that Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit on a Friday, and that the Great Flood began on a Friday. In the past, many Christians would never begin any new project or trip on a Friday, fearing they would be doomed from the start.
Both Friday and the number 13 were once closely associated with capital punishment. In British tradition, Friday was the conventional day for public hangings, and there were supposedly 13 steps leading up to the noose.
It has also been linked to the fact that a lunisolar calendar must have 13 months in some years, while the solar Gregorian calendar and lunar Islamic calendar always have 12 months in a year.
Another suggestion is that the belief originated in a Norse myth about twelve gods having a feast in Valhalla. The mischievous Loki gatecrashed the party as an uninvited 13th guest and arranged for Hod, the blind god of darkness, to shoot Baldur, the god of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow. Baldur was killed and the Earth was plunged into darkness and mourning as a result.
‘Friday’ was named after Frigg (or Frigga), the Norse goddess of marriage. Later she was confused with the goddess of love, Freya, who in turn became identified with Friday. When the Norsemen and Germanic tribes became Christians, Freya was supposed to have been banished to the mountains as a witch. Friday came to be called ‘witches’ Sabbath. It was believed that on this day, each week, twelve witches and the Devil met – 13 evil spirits in all.
Strangely, there is evidence to suggest that Friday the 13th is actually unlucky for some. Psychologists have found that some people are especially likely to have accidents or fall ill on Friday the 13th. This has been attributed to such people feeling a heightened state of anxiety on that day. The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina estimates that in the United States alone, $800 or $900 million is lost in business each Friday the 13th because some people will not travel or go to work.
FYI, the next Friday the 13ths will be in October of 2006, as well as in April and July of 2007.
Do you believe in this superstition? Have you ever had exceptionally bad luck on a Friday the 13th?
~ Mistress Jade Dragon