Is Friday the 13th really unlucky, or are we just so caught up in the superstition that we assume all the bad things that happen – no matter how likely or insignificant they are – happen due to this fearful coupling?
The fear of Friday the 13th is so widespread and so potent in some cases that it is even classed as an official phobia, with an estimated 17-21 million sufferers. ‘Triskaidekaphobia’, ‘Paraskevidekatriaphobia’ and ‘Friggatriskaidekaphobia’ are all variations of this phobia, with the latter taking its name from the Norse Goddess Frigg whom Friday is named after.
Frigg plays her part in the development of the superstition. It is said that the Christian Church attempted to demonise this goddess of love, beauty, magic, wisdom, war and death, which played its part in the pejoration of the day Friday.
Apparently, Christianity has played quite a large role in the conjuring of the fear that surrounds the date – a lot of popular theories are drawn from key biblical events that were said that have happened on Fridays. It is believed that Friday was the day that Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden for eating the forbidden fruit, as was the destruction of the Temple of Solomon, and of course the crucifixion of Christ.
As for the number thirteen, a line could be drawn between it and the Last Supper, where the thirteenth person to dine was Judas. Similarly, according to Norse myth, the banquet hall at Valhalla was said to have held twelve gods, but the number turned to thirteen when Loki the god of mischief made an unexpected appearance.
History too comes to the aid of the superstition’s formation – Friday the 13th of October 1066 saw the final day of King Harold II’s reign before William of Normandy took his crown and his life in the Battle of Hastings the following day. Also, although it isn’t any solid documented proof of this, the Knights Templar were said to have been arrested on the very same date just under three-hundred years later in 1307. These events are just two examples of the historical significance behind the superstition that surrounds Friday the 13th.
So why is there still a strong modern fear of Friday the 13th, and can it be justified?
Thomas W. Lawson could be credited with stirring fear in the early 20th century when his novel ‘Friday, the Thirteenth’ was published in 1907. The novel intentionally plays on the superstition, depicting a broker who uses this fear to create panic on Wall Street. Then of course, the ‘Friday the 13th’ film franchise surfaced in the latter half of the century and carried the fear on through into the new millennium.
In 2008, a study carried out by The Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics found that it is actually safer to drive on Friday the 13th. Of course this could be simply due to people consciously driving more carefully because of their awareness of the date. They also found that fewer fires and crimes occurred on Friday the 13th. Despite this, a survey carried out by Travelodge in 2013 revealed that 72% of people still claim to experience the detrimental effects of Friday the 13th.
Does this mean that there could be some truth behind the myth, or do too many of us simply expect bad things to happen? Either way, it doesn’t look like the fear will subside any time soon, so we should just kick back and enjoy it.
Article written by Tyler Turner.
Featured image from www.spookyisles.com