What’s Up With Friday the 13th?

I’ve always been curious about why Friday the 13th has gotten such a bad rap. According to The Telegraph, the U.S. loses some $800 – $900 mil. every Friday the 13th because so many people won’t fly or do business on that day. There is even a real mental disorder – paraskavidekatriaphobia – caused by fear of Friday the 13th.

The story goes that the day became tainted when King Philip IV of France ordered all members of the Knights Templar to be assassinated on that date in 1307. But that explanation never made a lot of sense to me: the Templars were a relatively small, elite organization. Why would regular people still be frightened of that date some 700 years later?

Deviant Art Tarot, # XIII – Death

It probably has more to do with the the “unlucky” status of both the number 13 and the day Friday. The number 12 is seen by most Western cultures as complete, harmonious and benevolent: 12 months of the year, 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 apostles, and two 12-hour cycles in a day. Thirteen, then, is one too many; it represents disorder, treachery and evil. Thus, 13 witches in a coven, the 13th guest as betrayer (Judas or Loki, depending on the mythos), Death as the 13th arcanum in the tarot.

Fridays, in our culture, are also ill-favored. Originally named in honor of the Germanic Goddess of Love, Frigg (or possibly Freyja), it was assigned as the day of Christ’s crucifixion by Christians (though that is a matter of debate). In Great Britain and America, Fridays were the days when all executions took place.

So there you are. All the “bad luck” ascribed to today’s date is really just the convergence of two superstitions. In fact, for me, it’s payday, which negates all the other stuff!



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