It’s Friday 13th January today, and already I’ve heard a lot of people going on about how it’s unlucky and how dreadful things will happen. This occurs every Friday 13th.
But why, exactly, is today seen as particularly unlucky?
I’ve done some digging around, and the answer seems to be… nobody really knows.
Putting aside the wonderful Friday the 13th horror films, because yes, what happens in those is terribly unlucky, I can’t seem to find a single solid reason why Friday 13th is considered so unlucky.
Theories range from the religious (Jesus died on a Friday, there were 13 people at the Last Supper) to the historical (a lot of prisoners were hanged on Fridays, apparently, so it was known as ‘Hangman’s Day’), origins of the superstition are very varied.
I personally like the theory that the dislike of the number 13 came from Norse mythology, with Loki being the culprit as usual. The story goes, so Wikipedia tells me, that there was a dinner party for twelve gods. Loki being Loki decided to crash it (he wasn’t invited) and somehow convinced Hodur to shoot Baldur, whereupon the earth went dark and it was an ‘unlucky’ day.
I haven’t read this myth, so once I’m done typing I’m going to crack out the Norse myths books and see if I can find it.
Having thirteen people at a dinner party is still considered unlucky in some countries, and some hosts put out a fourteenth table setting for a stuffed animal, just so there aren’t thirteen people round the table. This ties in with the above mentioned Christian origins of the dislike of the number thirteen, with the Last Supper having thirteen guests, and anyone familiar with the Bible will know how that went.
The 19th and early 20th century seems to be where the tie in of Friday and the number 13 being unlucky together comes from. T.W. Lawson wrote a book called Friday, the Thirteenth, in which an unscrupulous Wall Street broker takes advantage of the superstition and causes a panic. The idea of the date being unlucky was certainly growing, and it’s a superstition that’s stuck around.
Statistically though, Friday 13th is no worse or better than any other day. It’s more the perception that something bad will happen, and when it does, people cry ‘of course it’s Friday 13th! No wonder this awful thing happened!’
In my family, we view the 17th of any month with caution. Lots of unfortunate events have happened on the 17th of any given month, so we tend to be a bit more cautious. But again, it’s just a silly superstition born from coincidences that happened throughout our family history.
Today is nothing to worry about. It’s just a normal Friday. If you’re like me, you’re working and longing for 5pm, when it’s the weekend and officially Wine Time. Friday 13th should be celebrated, not feared. A Friday is a Friday, right? Enjoy it!