Do you avoid superstitious cliche's such as breaking mirrors, walking under ladders or black cats crossing your path?
Do all cultures regard Friday the Thirteenth as a day of ill fortune?
Friday the 13th
Or is it just a normal day of the week, the eve of the weekend, albeit one with a bad wrap?
Why are there fears and bad omens attached to this date?
For most it is in just another day, but for people with 'friggatriskaidekaphobia' and 'paraskevidekatriaphobia' (both essentially meaning fear of Friday and thirteen) the fear can be all too real. There has got to be a reason for this fear, surely. Phobias work in strange ways, and the fear of a specific date could come from many reasons. The fear could stem from a personal event or, in the matter of Friday the 13th, the fear that bad luck is attributed to it.
With the human brain and psychology being such a huge area to cover we are going to leave that aspect behind (along with religion) and rather take a look at the superstition, culture and folklore behind Friday the 13th.
Folklore and Superstition
In superstition and folklore, Friday is meant to be a day you should not undertake a new venture, start something new or complete a task. Ships should not set sail on a Friday, workers should not start a new job on a Friday nor should a cleaner or other member of house staff, undertake fresh employment on a Friday. Friday was also the day for executing the condemned something obviously very unlucky for some.
Suffice to say that both Friday and Thirteen have a bad wrap and when you throw the two together, well, I guess one can hope only for the worse.
However in some countries Friday the 13th is not THE unlucky date. In Italian culture it is Friday the 17th that is a date of bad luck, with Italians considering 13 a lucky number. And in Spanish speaking countries it is Tuesday the 13th that is a time for bad luck. However due to Anglo-Saxon influence, the younger people cultures of both have also taken on the tradition of Friday the thirteenth.
A Friday the 13th First
It was first referenced in a biography of Gioachino Rossini written by Henry Edwards. Gioachino Rossini was, at the time, the most popular opera composer in history and was nicknamed 'The Italian Mozart'. It was his death from pneumonia in 1868 that saw Henry Edwards write this passage:
'He was surrounded to the last by admiring friends; and if it be true that, like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that one Friday 13th of November he died'
Past, Present and Future...
Friday October 13, 1307: Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay and several Templar Knights were arrested by King Phillip of France. Most were eventually tortured to death. This is probably one of the most important events in reference to recent times as it was popularised as the origin of the Friday the Thirteenth superstition by Dan Brown in his book 'The Da Vinci Code' which sold more than eighty million copies.
Friday 13, 1939, one of the worst bushfires in Australian history struck Victoria, Australia, claiming 71 lives and causing widespread damage.
September 13, 1996, renowned rapper Tupac Shakur is pronounced dead after been shot four times in Las Vegas, Nevada.
It is not only past events which have seen bad luck. There is one major event due to happen on April 2029 falling on Friday the Thirteenth that may be cause for some concern. Asteroid 99942 'Apophis' will be making a very close pass of the earth, closer that our own orbiting communications satellites.
Although the risk of impact is minimal, if Apophis (named after a character from TV show Stargate SG-1 which was named after an Egyptian demon) does hit it will be catastrophic. NASA has estimated the energy released by the 270 meter diameter asteroid to be the equivalent of 510 megatons. As a comparison the Atomic Bomb 'Little boy' dropped on Hiroshima Japan exploded with the energy of 0.016 megatons. This gives it more than 50-100 times the energy of the Tunguska event (the largest impact event on or near earth in recorded history)
So if that comes to pass it is probably going to be an unlucky day for some.