Friday, March 13, 2015

Bad Luck Files - Friday The 13th

Beware Friday The 13th … If you’re tempted to do dangerous things, avoid doing that on this dark day. Because all the bad luck of the universe will hopelessly pour over your poor head. Better stand still all day long without moving. This is the thought of the most superstitious people. Personally I have never risked my life due to supernatural activities…well, not more than I usually do everyday. But of course the black shadow of this day is always upon us, threatening and fascinating. There are lots of theories behind the questions “Why is Friday the 13th considered unlucky? Why this evil reputation?”. Or probably I should ask you “Have you ever asked yourselves those question?”. Maybe not, but one of my personal goals is to give answers about questions you've never asked. So, here for you some of the theories about the bad luck around Friday The 13th.

Adam and Eve portrayed by Mark Chagall 
Since unmindful time, everybody has separately considered both Friday and the number 13 such unlucky omens and it was around the late 19th century that the first documented instances started talking about people putting the two together, forming a double-value unfortunate symbol.

But before focusing on those theories, let’s start from the most popular theory as to why Friday is considered an evil day.  Some of the more ancient clues are found in Christianity. By tradition, Friday is considered the day that Eve gave Adam the “forbidden fruit” and they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden.  It’s also said that Adam and Eve died on Friday, even if this is just very improbable because, back then, maybe a definition of “week” was not very simple.

According to Christianity, some of the most devastating  events of the Holy Writings happened of Friday.  The Temple of Solomon was said to have been destroyed on Friday. And Jesus was traditionally considered to have been crucified on a Friday, the day everyone known as Good Friday.  Paradoxically, several references in recent history consider Good Friday the only exception to “The Black List of Fridays”. In fact, a reference from 1857 said:

“Notwithstanding the prejudice against sailing on a Friday… most of the pleasure-boats… make their first voyage for the season on Good Friday”.

Freyja, the goddess of love,
beauty, magic, wisdom, death, and war.
Others theorize that Friday was considered unlucky before Christianity.  According to the Norse legends, The name “Friday” was chosen in honor of the Norse goddess Freyja, who was the multitalented goddess of love, beauty, magic, wisdom, death, and war.  Teutonic people considered the day extremely unlucky, especially for weddings, partially due to the lovely goddess the day was named for. Later, the Christian church tried to demonize this goddess, factor that maybe contributed to Friday’s reputation.

But these are just old theories. We have to wait until around the mid-17th  century to put our hands upon well documented instances of the notion that Friday was popularly considered unlucky among people. The idea continued to spread for over two centuries and by the 19th century was nearly common in almost every cultures.

And now let’s talk about the number 13. As for Friday, there are multiple possibilities for the origin, and the most popular comes again from Christianity. It’s considered incredibly bad luck to have 13 people sitting at the dinner table, which is due to the fact that Judas was by tradition the 13th person to be seated to dine at the Last Supper. This can be connected with an Hindu tradition, according to which it was bad luck for 13 people to gather together for any purpose at the same time.

Loki, the Norse God of Mischief
Also the Vikings of ancient times believed a very similar story.  According to the old Norse myth, 12 gods were feasting at the banquet hall at Valhalla, when Loki, the god of Mischief, showed up uninvited. This, of course, brought the count of gods up to of 13, guilty as charged.  Loki then encouraged Hod, the blind god of winter and darkness, to murder Balder the Good with a spear of mistletoe, throwing all of Valhalla into grief. Another example that having 13 friends for dinner is not a good idea.

As you can see, all these religions are very different between one another, but each one has a black link with this number. So why this demonizing tradition? Someone theorizes the number 13 may have been purposely criticized by the patriarchal religions founders to eradicate the influence of the Mother Goddess. In goddess worshiping cultures, the number 13 was often revered, as it represented the number of lunar and menstrual cycles that occur annually. The believers of this theory think that as the 12-month solar calendar came into use over the 13-month lunar calendar, the number 13 itself became suspect.

Anubis, the Egyptian God of the Afterlife 
What is noteworthy  is that other cultures in the ancient world linked the number 13 with magic and divine. The Ancient Egyptians, just to mention the most “modern” ancient culture of history, believed life was a spiritual journey that was made in different stages. 12 of those stages occurred in this life, but the last one, the 13th, was a joyous upward metamorphosis  to an eternal afterlife. So, to the Egyptians, the number 13 represented death, but not in a bad way like we normally do, but as acknowledgement, glory and eternal life. Of course, it’s always possible the association with death from Egyptian tradition later morphed into death in a fearful sense by cultures influenced by Egypt.

And just like “Friday”, All the legends spread until the 19th century, when the dark connotation was too much eradicated to be controlled. So when did Friday and the number 13 join together for the first time ever, creating the nowadays well known “League of Misfortune”? 

A portrait of The Battle of Hastings
You've probably heard that the Knights Templar were arrested on Friday ( precisely on October 13, 1307).  This could be a fantastic story, but unfortunately it has no historical documentation.

Another explanation everyone believe is connected with King Harold II’s kingdom. In fact, the last day of his domain happened to be on Friday (October 13, 1066). An attempting to King Harold ruling was made by William of Normandy, who gave him the opportunity to renounce his crown. But, like a good king, he refuses the offer. The next day William took it by force during the Battle of Hastings (the battle between these two kings and they’re armies), causing Harold’s brutal death. We need to say in King Harold’s defense that he never surrendered  to the invader.

One of the reports of "The Thirteen Club"
But one of the earliest actual references about the unlucky mixture comes from a club formed by William Fowler.  Fowler was a very skeptical person, and so he decided to prove that these superstitions are baseless. With his brave idea of laughing in the face of death,  he formed a club known as “The Thirteen Club” in which club members would meet in groups of 13 to dine, with their first ever meeting, of course, on Friday the 13th in January of 1881.

Just to make things even worse, club members had to walk under a ladder before sitting down to a table in room 13 of the building they were in.  They also made sure there was plenty of spilled salt on the table before they dined. Welcome to the Bad Luck Compilation.

A slightly earlier documented reference comes from 1869, in the biography of the Italian composer Gioachino Rossini where the author, Henry Sutherland Edwards notes:

"Rossini 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".

Gioachino Rossini
But let me tell you something: here in Italy, the number 13 strangely isn’t considered unlucky. Nowadays, the unlucky number  is 17 (the main reason is because 17 in Roman numbers is XVII, which can be rearranged to form the word VIXI, I'm no longer with the living) , so for us Friday the 17th became our version of Friday the 13th. Nevertheless, Henry Sutherland Edwards was British so, though he was writing about an Italian composer, applied his own viral superstition to Gioachino Rossini. 

And this is not the only case of a slight difference : in many nations where Spanish influence is prevalent, rather than Friday the 13th being unlucky, it is Tuesday the 13th that holds that honor.

Original first edition of "Friday
The Thirteen" by T. Lawson
Another one of the documented instances of people referencing it in this way, such as the 1907 novel by stockbroker and author Thomas W. Lawson called "Friday the Thirteenth", which told of a stockbroker’s efforts to destroy the market on that particular date.

What makes the Friday the 13th superstition stick so stubbornly in our collective consciousness? Well, the psychological reason is simple. If anything negative happens to us on that specific date, we obviously make a permanent association between the event and the date in their minds, with the final result of demonizing them in our memories.

The point is that human being tend to somatize bad influences, such as the fear of being surrounded by evil energy. For example, the Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics in 2008 attempted to prove that Friday the 13th was no different than any other day. They ended up demonstrating the opposite. From their results, they found Friday the 13th is actually a slightly safer day to drive than other days, at least using two years’ worth of data from 2006-2008 in the Netherlands.  In that period, there were an average of 7,500 traffic accidents on days that were both Friday and the 13th of the month.  On Fridays that didn’t line up with the 13th, there were an average of 7,800 accidents each day. Their theory is simply that, due to the phobia, less people drive on Friday the 13th and people are more careful when they have to.  They also found similar results with reported fires and crimes, with less happening on Fridays that coincide with the 13th day of the month.
As you can see, there are many reasons Friday the 13th can be seen as a Diabolical Day. But it’s funny to think that these documentations are a little piece of world’s history. It’s not important if you believe it or not. They could just be coincidences…..or maybe not.
HAPPY FRIDAY 13th, Snoopers. Be sure to say away from troubles...

4 comments:

  1. How crazy is it for a specific day and a certain number to have all sorts of story when they come together. :)

    So many interesting tales about Friday the 13th. Good thing I'm not superstitious. It's always just an ordinary day for me. Sometimes better than the rest because some pay days fall on the 13th. :)

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    Replies
    1. In my opinion it's always interesting to learn something new, even if we don't believe in such things. And paydays rule above any kind of superstition.

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  2. I went to a birthday social on the 13th. I had a good time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Having a good time is the best way to exorcise the "bad influence" of that day :)

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