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 rumored to be a glorified computer programmer by trade, but you can call her a “Systems Security Designer.” She's also 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?"

One Response to Friday The 13th

  1. 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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