Friday the 13th meaning: Why is this an unlucky day?

Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day. Many people are afraid of this supposed day of bad luck, but where does this superstition come from?

Friday the 13th – the fear of it is sometimes so extreme that some people do not travel on this day, cancel appointments, or even don’t leave their homes. These people are said to suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia. The term comes from Greek: paraskevi = Friday, dekatria = thirteen, and phobia = fear, phobia.

But where does this fear come from? We will see below that this superstition is not as old as one might think. However, it has spread widely because two elements come together here that are believed to bring bad luck, namely Friday and the number 13.

Why is Friday considered to be a bad day?

When Christianity did not yet exist, Friday was not considered an unlucky day. Quite the opposite: Friday is associated with Venus, the goddess of love. Words that refer to this day in Latin languages were derived from her name (dies Veneris): vendredi (French), venerdi (Italian), viernes (Spanish), vineri (Romanian). In Germanic languages, this day was named after the goddess Frigg, the Norse goddess of marriage: Friday (English), Freitag (German), vrijdag (Dutch), fredag (Swedish), and so on.

If there was an unlucky day in ancient Rome, it was Tuesday – the day of the god Mars. As Mars was the god of war, it was easier to interpret this day as an “unlucky day” compared to Friday.

It was only after the spread of Christianity that Friday acquired a negative connotation. Jesus was crucified on a Friday and died on the same day (Good Friday). Hence the idea that this day might bring bad luck.

The first written source where Friday is mentioned as an unlucky day is “The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer. In one of the stories, Richard the Lionheart is mentioned as having bad luck on a Friday (“And on a Friday fell all this mischance.”). The author writes that the king was injured on a Friday. In reality, the injury that would lead to Richard’s death occurred on the evening of March 25, 1199, which was actually a Thursday.

Is Friday the 13th an unlucky day?

Number 13: Why is it associated with bad luck?

The number 13 holds special significance in many cultures and religions. In some cases, it is considered a lucky number, while in others, it is associated with bad luck.

In Western culture, there is a belief that it is an unlucky number. Just like the idea that Friday brings bad luck, the superstition regarding the number 13 also has its origins in the Christian religion. During the Last Supper, there were 13 individuals present, with the 13th person being Judas, who betrayed Jesus. This led to the spread of the notion that the number 13 is unlucky. There is a similar story in Norse mythology, where the god Loki crashed an uninvited gathering of twelve other gods and, that night, killed the god Balder, plunging the earth into darkness. Based on these stories, some countries avoid organizing feasts with 13 guests, as it is believed that one person will die.

In other cultures, such as the Jewish culture, the number 13 has a positive significance. It is the age at which boys are considered adults and full members of the Jewish community (Bar Mitzvah). The number 13 is also a symbol of maturity and adulthood among those who practice magic. A person must be at least 13 years old to join such a cult.

In ancient times, the number 13 symbolized femininity because it represents the number of menstrual cycles a woman has in a year (28 days x 13 = 365 days).

The number 13 in numerology and astrology

In numerology, the number 13 represents transformation and development. A similar meaning is attributed to the number 13 in Tarot cards. The 13th card is “Death,” but it doesn’t necessarily signify physical death (no one is dying). It’s more about a symbolic death, a significant change in a person’s life. When we add the numbers 1 and 3, we get 4, a number in numerology representing wholeness, order, and materiality. So, it has a positive connotation. However, in Asian culture, the number four is considered negative because its pronunciation in Chinese sounds similar to the word for “death.” Thus, just as thirteen has a negative meaning in Western culture, the number four carries a negative connotation in Asian culture.

In astrology and astronomy, the number 13 is associated with the “Blue Moon.” A lunar phase cycle (Lunation) lasts approximately 29 days. In a year, there are 12 such cycles, resulting in twelve full moons. However, the number of days in a year does not align perfectly with the 12 lunations (approximately 348 days). This discrepancy leads to the occurrence of 13 full moons in a year about once every 2-3 years. In one of the months, there will be two full moons. When there are four full moons in a season, the third one is called a “Blue Moon.” A notable Blue Moon occurred on December 31, 2009, and it coincided with a lunar eclipse. Since the lunar eclipse occurred on New Year’s Eve, many people believed that this Blue Moon had magical powers.

Friday the 13th meaning

As mentioned above, the fear of Friday the 13th arises from the combination of two supposedly negative elements. While one might think that this superstition has existed for a long time, it only became widespread in the 20th century.

In his novel “The Da Vinci Code,” author Dan Brown writes about the dissolution of the Templar Order after their arrest on Friday, October 13, 1307, and their subsequent burning at the stake. Many people believe that this event is connected to the superstition, but this theory has not been confirmed. On the contrary, there are no sources mentioning Friday the 13th as an unlucky day from 1307 until the 20th century.

The superstition seems to originate more from the novel “Friday, the Thirteenth” by Thomas William Lawson (1907). In the novel, an unscrupulous broker causes a collapse of the Wall Street stock market, and it happens on a Friday, the 13th of the month.

In fact, many disasters that occurred on a Friday (the 13th or not) are related to the financial sector. There have been several days referred to as “Black Friday.” The first “Black Friday” occurred on December 6, 1745 when news spread that the Pretender Charles Edward Stuart was marching on London, resulting in the first stock market crash in history.

It’s worth noting that the most well-known “Black Friday” refers to the New York Stock Market Crash of 1929, which actually happened on a Thursday (referred to as “Black Thursday” in the United States). Due to the time difference, it was already Friday in Europe, and this contributed to the idea that Friday brings bad luck.

Statistics: Is Friday the 13th an unlucky day?

Over time, numerous statistics have been compiled to determine whether the fear of Friday the 13th is justified. They show that there are indeed more accidents on Fridays. However, this is not the case when Friday falls on the 13th of the month. Quite the opposite: because people are superstitious and fearful of this day, they tend to be more cautious and alert. As a result, there are fewer accidents (in traffic, at home, etc.) than on other days.

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