Why is Friday the 13th Believed to be so Unlucky?
A look at the reasons behind the belief that Friday the 13th is the unluckiest of days.
It’s Friday the 13th, a day that is considered to be extremely unlucky. The phobia of Friday the 13th is named Paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greek; Paraskeví means Friday and dekatreís means 13. Some people are so afraid of this day that they refuse to do anything, and prefer to stay indoors where they consider themselves safe from any potential bad luck or harm. Where did this superstition come from, though? Well, there are actually several different theories about the origin of the idea that the day is particularly unlucky, and some of the following may surprise you!
The earliest documented reference to Friday the 13th in English history is in a biography of Gioachino Rossini, written by Henry Sutherland Edwards in 1869. Edwards wrote;
“He [Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring friends; and if it be true that, like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that one Friday 13th of November he died.”
The fear of Friday the 13th stems from both the fear of Fridays, and the number 13, both given a bad name for several different reasons. Friday is considered an unlucky day in several cultures and religions, especially Christianity; Jesus Christ was crucified on a Friday. It is also the day that Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit that saw them expelled from the garden of Eden, as well as the day that they later died.
The day is also considered to be extremely unlucky in Maritime circles. It is a well known superstition among sailors that it is unlucky to set sail and begin a journey on a Friday. HMS Friday is an urban legend which stems from this superstition; it is told that in the 19th Century, the Royal Navy decided to try and prove the superstition wrong by commissioning a ship named HMS Friday which was launched and set out on her maiden voyage on Friday the 13th, commanded by Captain James Friday. According to the story, the ship was never seen or heard from again.
It is not just sea voyages that are considered unlucky to begin on a Friday, it is considered bad luck to start anything on that day, including marriages, new jobs, and giving birth. It is even considered bad luck to cut your hair or your nails, or even to change your bed, as it is said to bring nightmares.
Now we come to the number 13 itself, so much feared that it is often left out from number sequences, such as the numbering of house doors, or the floors of tall buildings. Numerology is one of the biggest reasons that the number is regarded as such bad luck, as 12 is considered the number of completeness;
A clock has 12 hours.
A year has 12 months.
The Zodiac has 12 signs.
Olympus has 12 Gods.
Israel has 12 tribes.
Muhammad has 12 successors.
Jesus has 12 apostles.
Because of this, the number 13 is seen to transgress this completeness, and is therefore seen to bring bad luck.
Again, the number is considered an omen in Christianity, as that was the number of people present at the Last Supper (Jesus and his 12 apostles). Judas, who arrived late and was guest number 13, turned out to be Jesus’ betrayer. There is also a similar belief that when 12 Norse Gods were at a banquet, Loki turned up uninvited, making the number present 13, and he later killed one of the other Gods, leading to Ragnarök. It is thought that from these stories derives another superstition that says when 13 dine together, one of those people will die within the year.
The tradition of ‘Hanging Day’ combines both of the superstitions. It was customary to execute criminals by hanging on a Friday, and the number 13 played a huge part in these proceedings; the criminal climbed 13 steps to the scaffold, there were 13 turns in the hangman’s noose, and the hangman was paid 13 pence and a halfpenny.
When the day that is traditionally associated with death is combined with the unlucky 13, which is also the number of the Death card in the Tarot deck, it is no wonder that many people still believe earnestly that the day is destined to bring nothing but trouble, but there are also a lot of people who go out of their way to disprove the theory. The Thirteen Club was founded in 1882, aimed at debunking the superstition. The club came to London in January 1984, when more than 169 men turned up to the Holborn restaurant, walking under ladders and dined, seated 13 to a table. The night was made to be full of as many superstitions as possible, with a mirror smashing ceremony to begin the 13 course dinner.The Thirteen Club did quieten down for a while, but has recently made a comeback and is now extremely popular in 18 countries, and hosts a number events on this day.
It is widely believed these days that you will only encounter bad luck on Friday 13th if you go looking for it. It is actually believed that people are less likely to come to harm on this day, especially on the roads; according to statistics, there are actually less road accidents on this day, as there are fewer people driving, and those that are, are taking more care than usual!
If you want to cure yourself of your phobia of Friday the 13th, it is believed that all you need to do is focus on being positive and bringing yourself good luck. If you believe that good things are going to happen to you, they most likely will do. So, instead of hiding indoors or skulking around expecting things to go drastically wrong, be positive, walk with your head up high, and deliberately have a really good day! Another suggestion is to deliberately try your luck by doing things that depend entirely on chance, such as playing the lottery. You never know, it could turn out to be your lucky day! Or, you could take advice from folklore and climb to the top of a tall building and burn your socks, as apparently this has the same effect. Either way, we wish you the best of luck!
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