This past Friday was Friday the 13th, A day considered to be very unlucky in Western superstition and culture. This day, for centuries has been feared and caused concern based on the idea that it will bring bad luck – but, where did this superstition come from? Listed below are some instances that may have started, or perpetuated, the tradition. In more recent years the holiday has gained infamy due to the thriller/horror franchise, “Friday the 13th,” as well as, many tattoo parlors traditionally will do tiny “flash” tattoos for just $13. If you do observe this day as a day for extra caution, don’t worry the next Friday the 13th isn’t until January of 2017.
Some of the events believed to be associated with Friday the 13th are listed below, you decide if it is unlucky or not.
There is a myth that the earliest reference to thirteen being unlucky or evil is from the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (circa 1780 BC), where the thirteenth law is omitted.
Triskaidekaphobia may have also affected the Vikings: It is believed that Loki was the 13th god in the Norse pantheon—more specifically, Loki was believed to have engineered the murder of Balder and was the 13th guest to arrive at the funeral. This is perhaps related to the superstition that if 13 people gather, one of them will die in the following year.
There were 13 people at the Last Supper. It’s said that Judas Iscariot — the one who betrayed Jesus — was the 13th man to take his place at the table.
Many Christians believe that Jesus was crucified on Friday. Researchers, however, believe that it wasn’t a case of Friday the 13th lore – it was possibly something like Friday, April 3, 33 A.D. But that doesn’t mean the 13th is off the hook. Many Christians also believe that the Cain and Abel debacle took place on that date.
Traditionally, there used to be 13 steps leading up the gallows. There’s also a legend that a hangman’s noose traditionally contained 13 turns.
Although a coven is now just considered to be any group of witches (or vampires, if you’re into a certain young adult series about sparkly supernaturals), it was once believed that a coven was made up of exactly 13 members.
There’s an old superstition that says if you have 13 letters in your name, you’re bound to have the devil’s luck. Silly, yes, but slightly more convincing when you consider that Charles Manson, Jack the Ripper, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all contain 13 letters
In numerology, the number 12 is considered to be the representation of perfection and completion. It stands to reason, then, that trying to improve upon perfection by adding a digit is a very bad idea indeed — your greed will be rewarded with bad luck.
In the late 1800s, there was a group called The Thirteen Club. Their purpose was to debunk the legend that seating 13 people at a table would result in the death of one of them in the year to follow. They met on the 13th of the month and had dinner 13 people to a table, and to make matters worse, they purposely spilled salt on the table without throwing it over their shoulders. The horror! They also fined members who showed up late — 13 cents, of course. Members of the club included five U.S. presidents: Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt and Chester A. Arthur. I’m not sure if it’s worth noting that two of these presidents were shot — one fatally, of course — but I’ll mention it anyway. And, if you’re keeping track, Chester A. Arthur only became president because he was vice when Garfield was assassinated.
Friday, October 13, 1972, was a bad day in the history of aviation. That’s the day that Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 infamously crashed in the Andes, killing 29 people. On the exact same day, 174 people were killed when a Soviet Aeroflot crashed in a lake about a kilometer from the runway.
There are two particular events associated with Friday the 13th involving the Knights Templar – the first is that apparently the Pope put an end to the last Crusade on a Friday the 13th, and he was forced to capture and burn alive 13 Knights Templar, and the second is that Philip IV, on Friday the 13th, 1307, ordered the Knights Templar arrested
The number 13 had been considered sinister and wicked in ancient Iranian (Persian) civilization and Zoroastrianism. Since beginning of the Nourooz tradition, the 13th day of each new Iranian year is called Sizdah Be-dar, and this tradition is still alive among Iranian people both within Iran and abroad. Since Sizdah Be-dar is the 13th day of the year, it is considered a day when evil’s power might cause difficulties for people. Therefore, people leave urban areas for one day and camp in the countryside. Even in the current post-1979 Revolution era, and despite the wishes of Islamic government, this tradition continues to be practiced by the majority of the population throughout Iran.
In Mesoamerican divination, 13 is the number of important cycles of fortune/misfortune, known as Trecena.
A year with 13 full moons instead of 12 posed problems for the monks in charge of the calendars. “This was considered a very unfortunate circumstance, especially by the monks who had charge of the calendar of thirteen months for that year, and it upset the regular arrangement of church festivals. For this reason thirteen came to be considered an unlucky number.”However, a typical century has about 37 years that have 13 full moons, compared to 63 years with 12 full moons, and typically every third or fourth year has 13 full moons.