I’m superstitious about some things, but Friday the 13th isn’t one of them!
Why would a seemingly random combination of day and date be deemed unlucky? While there’s lots of speculation, it’s truly a mystery and one likely to remain unsolved. This day’s bad rap is thought to go all the way back to Babylonian and Biblical times. But in my view many of the theories out there just don’t make sense; they piece together different ideas to make a reason…I don’t think so. For example…
The Last Supper was attended by 13 people—Jesus and his twelve disciples. And the Last Supper occurred on the 13th of the month Nisan, and then Jesus was crucified on the next day which was of course, Friday.
Rather piecemeal logic. Seems like someone intentionally trying to instill fear, if you ask me.
I think making a big deal about Friday the 13th is a relatively recent idea, one that spread as communication methods improved. I’m sure if we had nothing better to do, and we decided to look at every day/date combination…we’d find a bad event took place on every one of them. Furthermore, other dates are considered unlucky by different cultures: Tuesday the 13th (again that number!) in Greek and Hispanic cultures, and Friday the 17th in Italy.
My guess is the modern day fear is based on the orchestrated demise of the Knights Templar on Friday, October 13, 1307. The Templars were a Christian military order formed around 1129 to protect pilgrims on the road to the Holy Land. Over the centuries their power and wealth grew, as they developed a form of banking in addition to their protection duties. By 1307 King Phillip IV of France was deeply in debt to the Templars. He arranged for a coordinated attack on the French Templars, which resulted in kidnapping, torture and false confessions, all of which led to executions. Mass burnings at the stake (while they didn’t actually occur on Friday the 13th, only the mass arrest did) would be horrific enough to reinforce the masses belief that the date is unlucky. The Knights Templar wasn’t officially disbanded until 1312 by Pope Clement V (who sat in Avignon, France, not Rome) under pressure from King Phillip IV. Debt resolved.Over the years some pointed out unfortunate occurrences on Friday the 13th reinforcing the day’s ill fortune, such as the 1869 biographer of Gioachino Rossini, who stressed that the composer died on that fateful day. And then popular media latches on here and there, as early as a novel from 1907 called Friday, the Thirteenth, in which a shady stock broker uses the superstition to create a Wall Street trading panic on that day. More recently we have the series of twelve horror movies made between 1980 and 2009, and the DaVinci Code book and movie.
The thing about superstitions: they don’t have to make sense! Fear of the number thirteen (triskaidekaphobia) and fear of Friday the 13th (paraskevidekatriaphobia…good luck pronouncing that) are officially recognized. They’ve been around for centuries, so I guess they’ve earned it!
I’d love to hear your thoughts—what are you superstitious about?—share in the comments below. I hope you had a lovely Friday the 13th—the next one is in October!
(and don’t forget to check out Facebook for other history nuggets too!)
Refinery 29, Friday The 13th Isn’t The Only Bad-Luck Day You Need To Worry About, http://www.refinery29.com/2015/11/97594/other-unlucky-days-friday-the-13, accessed January 13, 2017.
The Telegraph, Friday the 13th: why is it unlucky and other facts about the worst day in the calendar, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/friday-the-13th-why-is-it-so-unlucky/, accessed January 13, 2017.
Wikipedia, Friday the 13th, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friday_the_13th, accessed January 13, 2017.
Wikipedia, Friday the 13th (franchise), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friday_the_13th_(franchise), accessed January 13, 2017.
Wikipedia, Knights Templar, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_Templar, accessed January 13, 2017.