Friday The 13th

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Given that some of my non-Pagan friends have lately asked me about where witches stand on the idea of Friday the 13th being unlucky, I thought I should post something. I’ve never subscribed to the notion of specific dates, days or times of year being unlucky, but I know people who are incredibly superstitious (who are often surprised that I’m not, being Pagan and all).

According to folklorists, there is no written evidence for a “Friday the 13th” superstition before the 19th century.  The earliest known documented reference in English occurs in an 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini:

[Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring and affectionate friends; and if it be true that, like so many other Italians, he regarded Friday as an unlucky day, and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that on Friday, the 13th of November, he died.

On the other hand, another theory by author Charles Panati, one of the leading authorities on the subject of “Origins” maintains that the superstition can be traced back to ancient myth:

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.”

Also, I came across an interesting article on Infoplease.com, which I’ve posted below;

Unlucky No. 13 combines Christian and pagan beliefs
by David Johnson
infoplease.com

Friday the 13th is an unlucky day in much of Western Europe, North America, and Australia. Many people avoid travel and avoid signing contracts on Friday the 13th. Floors in tall buildings often skip from 12 to 14. And while the superstition is believed to be fading, it nonetheless has deep roots in both Christian and pagan culture.

The Day Jesus Was Crucified?

Many Christians have long believed that Friday was unlucky because it was the day of the week when Jesus was crucified. The number 13 was believed to bring bad luck because there were 13 people at The Last Supper. Since there were 12 tribes of Israel, that number was considered lucky.

Roots in Norse Mythology

Thirteen was also a sinister number in Norse mythology. Loki, one of the most evil of the Norse gods, went uninvited to a party for 12 at Valhalla, a banquet hall of the gods. As a result, he caused the death of Balder, the god of light, joy, and reconciliation. Loki tricked Balder’s blind brother, Hod, into throwing a sprig of mistletoe at Balder’s chest. Since mistletoe was the only thing on Earth fatal to Balder, the beloved god fell dead.

Literature and Folk Wisdom

During the Middle Ages, the superstition against Friday the 13th grew. On Friday, October 13, 1307, King Philip IV of France ordered the arrests of Jaques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templars and sixty of his senior knights in Paris. Thousands of others were arrested elsewhere in the country. After employing torture techniques to compel the Templars to “confess” to wrongdoing, most were eventually executed and sympathizers of the Templars condemned Friday the 13th as an evil day. Over time a large body of literature and folk wisdom have reinforced the belief. In the 18th century, the HMS Friday was launched on Friday the 13th. It was never heard from again. Since then, ships are not usually launched on that date. (Click here for other mysterious ship disappearances.)

Dinner With 13

It is considered especially unlucky to have 13 people at the table during a meal, such as in Agatha Christie’s mystery novel, Thirteen at Dinner. During the 1880s, a men’s group that felt superstition was an unhealthy influence on public life held Thirteen Club dinners. Those diners would have doubtless deplored Triskaidekaphobia, which is a fear of the number 13. They would also have looked askance at Triskaidekamania, which is an excessive enthusiasm for the number 13.

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About Claire

Claire Mulkieran is a teacher of Pagan-related spirituality and the unofficial patron saint of meandering misfits (or a delusional lunatic, depending upon whom you ask). If you’re ready to read between the lines, consider her guiding motto; “Are you a figment of my imagination, or am I a figment or yours?” Claire is also rumored to be a glorified computer programmer by trade, but you can call her a “Systems Security Designer” (which is fancy way saying she’s paid to break things).

5 Responses to Friday The 13th

  1. Tori L. P. June 5, 2017 at 5:46 am #

    I happen to love the number 13. In 1948 on February 13 my grandparents were married (My mothers parents). 13 months later on the 13th day in the 13th hour (between 1:00 pm and 1:59pm)
    my mother was born. In 1945 my father was born on December 13. In 1965 on May 13 my Husband was born (the husband I’ve been married to for 27 years Mostly Happy, very much in love still and even though we retired 10 years ago due an early stroke my husband suffered right before his 40th birthday. We also Like each other very much and spend most of our time together and have since his doctor and I made him quit his Job he went back to a year after the stroke. The job he had done on and off since he was a teenager, working with his dad at first then moving up through the growing Company as a heavy equipment operator all the up to Underground Foreman. He tried to go back to work after his stroke because he believed it was his responsibility to take care of his family (meaning Me and our 15 year old daughter and 13 year old son) whether you feel like it or not, or whether it is good for you or not. We made him quit even though he was able to still do the job well, because we could see the damage it was doing that he would, what I call muscle through. We have been more important to each other and our family than money ever will be. We were more important when we agreed to let me stay home to raise our kids when they were small. We were more important when we raised our family with rules and age appropriate boundries, some of the family often objected to. And we were more important when we took an old fishing boat of his grandparents and turned it into the very uncoolest looking wakeboard boat on the lake we all grew up using, so our preteen kids who had friends and their own intrests, still enjoyed spending time with us and not pulling completley away. We are the oldest child in both our families of divorced parents, stepparents, real, half, and step siblings. Its always been our job to watch out for our siblings, work hard from an early age, and take care of and help out our aging relatives that took care of us when we were young. We did the things that were expected mostly without complaint, we also worked very hard at raising our family and keeping our marriage not only together but good and happy. We both agree that we did the best we could at the time, unfortunatlly your best at the time doesn’t always measure up as good enough. We also agree that though its an everyday work your butt off job that is never really done, together we have managed to do a great job, we have grown kids we’re proud of a partnership most days makes us both happy and makes the works of progress that everyone is as long as you keep trying, fun to be together! Now I honestly don’t know if Friday has anything to do with any of the wonderful people who helped make me who I am, or helped make my life more good than bad, more happy than sad, and at least as far as I’m concerned way more successful than not, but I love the number 13, it doesn’t seem to have anything but good going on for me. Oh I almost forgot, one of my four granddaughters was born January 13, 2014, and one of my most entertaining and favorite brother-in-laws married one of my favorite sister-in-laws on June 13, 2015. LIFE IS AS GREAT AS YOU WANT, IT JUST TAKES LOTS OF WORK, AND THE BEST POINT OF VIEW YOU CAN MANAGE ON ANY GIVEN DAY.

  2. shannon February 4, 2017 at 2:05 pm #

    Both my parents were born on Friday the 13th each different months on opposite ends of the year!

  3. Julianne King May 13, 2016 at 8:00 am #

    Thank you for posting so many different sources and possible origins. I love being able to see things from as many perspectives as possible. Thanks!

  4. Eric James Smith November 11, 2015 at 3:06 am #

    I’m a young pagan lookin gn for others with ideas like mine.I was actually born Friday the 13th it’s one of my luckiest days.

  5. Kathryn Kolls September 13, 2013 at 6:58 am #

    I had heard that the origins of Friday the 13th superstitions were based around the Knights of Templar. Their power began to grow greater than the Pope’s and the current Pope had all the Knights of Templar killed on Friday the 13th.

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