Why does Friday the 13th always instil such fear in us? What really happens on this day? It is one of the most feared days of the year by many but could it be all just coincedence that bad luck takes place and that this one day must bear the responsibility of catastrophe?
Friday the 13th occurs when the thirteenth day of a month falls on a Friday, which superstition holds to be a day of bad luck. The one day of the week, Friday has been considered unlucky since the 14th century’s The Canterbury Tales as well as many professionals regarding the day as unlucky when undertaking new projects. The term, “Black Friday” has been used over the years when terrible catastrophes have struck such as the stock market crash, the Eyemouth disaster of 1881 where 181 fishermen had died, devastating bushfires in Australia in 1939, an allied air attack against German ships in Norway during World World II and the massacre of protesters in Iran during the late 70s. As for the number 13, some countries deem it as bad luck and have a specific recognized phobia for it, called “triskaidekaphobia” which was coined in 1911.
It could just be sheer coincidence that these terrible catastrophes happened on a Friday but some say it dates back to Christian scripture, where Jesus Christ’s last supper, counting him and the twelve apostles was 13, seeing reason to have 13 guests at a table was consider bad luck. As for the day, scripture suggests that Jesus was crucified on a Friday, leaving some to believe this to be such reason.
There is no evidence for a “Friday the 13th” superstition before the 19th century however, many choose to believe that the superstition had been passed down by stories and folklore from generation to generation. There are in fact several theories proposing the origin of Friday the 13th and one such theory is discussed by author Charles Panati:
"The actual origin of the superstition, though, appears also to be a tale in Norse mythology. Friday is named for Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility. When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil — a gathering of thirteen — and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week. For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was known as "Witches’ Sabbath."
Whatever the case and what you choose to believe, be careful today and be sure to watch out for yourself!