Friday the 13th is unlucky, but nobody is really sure why. For Friday, October 13th, 2023, we’re celebrating early by speculating about it, as we do.
What’s the significance of Friday the 13th being unlucky?
The world will never forget the first, terrible, Friday the 13th. The sky dripped red with the blood of the murdered. Kings wept, rivers boiled, and every living creature sought refuge under whatever could shield them from the unspoken terror that accompanied that cursed day.
I just made all that up. We fear Friday the 13th, but no one can say for sure why. However, there are some pretty juicy theories out there, and we’re going to share them with you, today, on Homespun Haints.
Why is the number 13 unlucky?
To talk about Norse mythology again, let’s blame Loki. The god Baldur was the love of Valhalla. His mother Frigg loved him so much that she put a spell on everything that could possibly injure her son…except for mistletoe. The gods held a party in Baldur’s honor, and playing a party game where everyone tries to kill Baldur, as he laughs off their attempts. But Loki, the 13th (uninvited) guest, convinced someone to whittle mistletoe into an arrow to kill Baldur.
Want another dinner party version? The number of people at the Last Supper, and the related betrayal of Jesus by the 13th diner, is often cited as the unlucky origin of Friday the 13th. This is a great explanation for 13 being bad luck. Except the unlucky Last Supper happened on a Thursday the 13th (Maundy Thursday), not a Friday.
Theories behind the unlucky reputation of Friday the 13th
- Mathematical usefulness of the number 12, coupled with random Western European coincidences. 1For example, there are 2 months in a year, 12 hours on a clock, 12 inches in a foot, and 12 is an even number with many divisors. Therefore, 13 represents something weird and evil that disrupts the perfect balance of 12 when it comes about.
- “13 steps to the gallows,” and Friday is associated with punishment.
- Roman culture, the 13th witch to come to a gathering of 12 was the actual devil.
- Phases of the moon.
- The 13th day of the month is more likely to occur on a Friday, when you take an average over the last 400 years. Only a little bit, but you never know.
- The number of people at the Last Supper, and the related betrayal of Jesus by the 13th diner.
- The Knights Templar were independent church-sponsored pilgrimage bodyguards and the world’s first checking account. On Friday, October 13th, 1307 King Philip IV staged a coup against the Knights Templar, wiping them out after 200 years of financial dominance. Read Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco for more related stories.
- Numerology is the fun practice of using questionable math to find meaning in the world. We’re not sure how this works exactly, but we’ll take a stab. 13 reduces down into 1+3=4, which is unlucky in East Asian culture, where it’s a homonym of the word “death.” Which reminds us, we promised to post the Japanese pop song Amber found about the number 4. Feast your eyes and ears on the wonder of BABYMETAL.
Do you have Triskaidekaphobia?
Triskaidekaphobia is fear of the number 13. Fear of Friday the 13th specifically is called either friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigg referring to the Norse goddess for whom Fridays are named) or paraskevidekatriaphobia (which sounds like it’d be more etymologically interesting, but Paraskeví is just literally Greek for “Friday”).
The original etymology of the word “dismal” literally translates into “bad day.” In times gone by, these dates would be marked on the calendar, as a reminder of the bad luck they promised. The Dismal Days were also known as Egyptian Days, as those guys were the astrologers doing all the math at the time.
Here are the dismal days, should you care to jot them on your calendar:
Jan 1, 25, Feb 4th, 26th Mar 1, 28, Apr 10, 20, May 3rd, 25th, June 10, 16th, July 13, 22, Aug 1, 30, Sept 3rd, 21st, Oct 3rd, 22nd, Nov 5th, 28th, Dec 7th, 22nd.
Huh, only one 13 in the bunch. Interesting.
What did Becky’s cousin find in the antique shop?
Bats? Garlic? Silver dollar? (Holy) water? Becky thinks it’s a religious relic. But Diana thinks it’s a vampire trap. Did the strange artifact from Savannah, GA, actually cause the shop owner’s bad luck? Do you believe in unlucky objects or cursed objects? What should the shop owner do about the object?
Today’s promo exchange is with Southern Gothic
We’re just guessing, Hainted Love, but you’re likely interested in hauntings, legends and folklore from the American South, no? Subscribe to the Southern Gothic Podcast for an unforgettable experience that brings history to life and uncovers the truth behind classic tales of the paranormal.
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Are you coming to our livestream event next week???
But BEFORE this upcoming Friday the 13th, something is going to happen…something we sure hope isn’t unlucky! Becky’s first time in Oklahoma! Diana’s first time opening the secret passage in her haunted basement! Do you have a ticket? Did you know our patrons get a free ticket? We look forward to seeing you soon, and unveiling the mystery, LIVE, on a very spooky day!