Today’s the day that many of us have been waiting for! Friday the 13th is officially upon us once again. For some, this is a day of bad luck and superstition while others associate the day with all things creepy and spooky. Let’s dig a little deeper to discover how this day earned its unlucky reputation.
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With today being not only Friday the 13th but also a full moon, social media is ablaze warning about the insanity, craziness and weirdness that is to be expected. On the other hand, there are those of us who embrace its spookier side, sharing memes featuring horror movies and black cats. But you have to wonder, what is it about this specific date that triggers so much concern? Why is there so much superstition surrounding a date on the calendar?
The actual origin of the Friday the 13th superstition isn’t known, however, there are many theories of where it all may have stemmed from including the application of basic numerology, biblical teachings and Norse mythology. What we do know is that this superstitions date has taken on its own life in today’s society!
Defined as ‘the study of the occult significance of numbers’, numerology is based on the belief that there is a deeper or mystical relationship between a number and life events including numerical weather predictions, personality indicators, and more. Each number is believed to carry its own unique energy and influence. This explanation places the importance specifically on the number 13 and it’s meaning.
The number 12 has been associated with the concept of ‘completeness’, which can be seen across many different cultures and theologies. Consider the fact there are 12 months in a year, 12 zodiac signs (not getting into the new 13th sign and that debate), 12 gods of Olympus, 12 apostles and even 12 days of Christmas. The number 13, however, has a very different connotation. Disrupting this balance and completeness, 13 is seen as an unlucky omen or a mythical ‘error’. For this reason, the number 13 is often avoided. Many hotels choose not to include a 13th floor, ships avoid being launched on the 13th and many people will write off the 13th as a date for major events like weddings.
While numerology can explain the number 13th, but not necessarily the inclusion of the ‘Friday’ aspect of Friday the 13th, those who look to the Bible for an explanation believe they have found the root of the day as a whole.
A total of 13 people sat down at the Last Supper, Jesus Christ and his 12 disciples. Of these, one would ultimately betray Jesus to the Romans – Judas Iscariot, the 13th person at the table. Following this Jesus was then crucified on a Friday, also known as Good Friday. It is believed that the combination of these two facts and events was the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition for the Christian population, which then influenced those outside of their faith as well.
The Norse mythology is actually incredibly similar to that of the Biblical teachings when you break it down. The legend states that there were 12 gods gathered for a meal at Valhalla when Loki, the God of Mischief and Disorder, arrived as guest number 13. This upset the balance introducing turmoil and the only way to find balance once again was with the death of one of the gods present.
This balance was found at the hands of Loki, adding to the evil and negative connotations surrounding the event. It is said that Loki tricked Hoor, the God of Winter into shooting his brother Baldr, the God of Summer, with a magical spear. The spear itself was tipped with mistletoe, the only substance that was believed to possess the ability to kill a god. Therefore, the death of Baldr can be traced back to unlucky guest #13.
Knights of Templar
Another suspected origin of the unlucky connotation of Friday the 13th dates back to Friday, October 13, 1307. This is the date when King Philip IV of France arrested the Knights of Templar. They were accused of asking recruits to spit on the cross, engage in ‘indecent kissing’ and deny Christ while also being suspected of fraud and financial corruption. While the arrest itself may not seem that memorable, people are arrested all the time, the hundreds of French Templars arrested were then tortured and even burned at the stake.
The term ‘paraskevidekatriaphobia’ refers to the fear of Friday the 13th. Regardless of which origin you believe, the fear and connotation associated with this date continue to have a significant impact on our society today.
In fact, History.com predicts that the resulting financial losses are so high that they exceed $800 million each year! This is due to the number of people who avoid making any form of significant plans on this date including taking a trip or getting married, as well as those who will go as far as staying home where they consider themselves safe rather than making plans or even going to work.
While there are many negative connotations associated with the date, it’s not all bad! Horror movie lovers often take this day to celebrate the release of the horror movie ‘Friday the 13th’ in 1980. Recognized today as a horror classic, this was the first introduction of the masked killer Jason, a character who has since risen to fame. You can’t celebrate Halloween and all things creepy without stumbling across Jason!
Furthermore, many modern-day Pagans and witches are reclaiming Friday the 13th as a positive day of celebration. Unlike the traditional meaning of the number 13 introduced by numerology, the traditions and beliefs of these individuals see the number thirteen as a sacred number associated with luck, good fortune, the Great Goddess and fertility.
As a result of the connection between Friday the 13th and the Great Goddess, it is believed that this day is one of great power and energy. On this day there are many rituals, spells and ceremonies conducted within the pagan community. By harnessing the elements and the energies of the day, practitioners are able to make great things happen, bring good luck to themselves and their communities and manifest wisdom and beauty within their lives. This is a time to recognize the cycle of death and rebirth. It is also said that this is a time of peak creativity in which we are most inspired in the areas of music, art and healing.
I, for one, use this as an opportunity to reflect on everything that I have in my life coming into this day, shedding any negative energies or unnecessary baggage (death). At the same time, I am looking forward to the future, the journey that I am currently on and the direction that I see my life headed (rebirth). I will be setting new goals and opening my heart to new possibilities.
What does Friday the 13th mean to you? Are you doing anything specific to celebrate (or avoid) the day today?
50 thoughts on “Friday the 13th: Origin of the Unlucky Day”
I’m not superstitious as all. It was very interesting to learn about the Biblical 13 behind the day. Interesting,I always hear about 12 referring to the number of disciples but adding Jesus to make 13…1st time hearing it. Great background and explanation blog!
It was really interesting researching and investigating the details behind these theories. I had heard most of them but definitely learned something new.
I’ve heard that hunger 13 is actually a positive thing but I still unconsciously avoid it!
I think a lot of people unconsciously avoid it simply because that’s what we’re accustomed to do. After all, that’s what society has taught us
I believe you and I are Kindred Spirits…Loved this article…I knew some of the information because I’m a bit of a nerd, but I loved how you put and grouped it altogether. Also, you had me at “not getting into the new 13th sign and that debate” I cracked up on that one; and PARASKEVIDEKATRIAPHOBIA – as a confirmed logofile I think this is a Great word, and finally, I, too, do the same as you’ve described in your last paragraph. Thanks again 🙂
I mean, the 13th sign could be a whole separate long winded post lol
I love posts like this! I have a superstitions one in the plans for October myself ? I always associate Friday the 13th with the goddess but I didnt know about the association with the knights templar or Loki being the 13th, I’ve learned something new ! Great post x
I loved the process of writing this because it gave me the opportunity to learn a little as well! I can’t wait to read yours
What an informative post. I never really knew the history behind Friday the 13th. I don’t have any plans. It’s just a regular day to me. Thanks for the great post!
Britt, this is a great post! I, for one just look at Friday 13th as another day. But, I never really knew the numerology behind it. This was a great read!
I love Norwegian mythology So cool that you thought to include that in this piece and I had read a book years ago talking about this very exact myth.
It’s so fascinating, isn’t it? Do you remember what book it was?
Wow! So many facts here that I did not know about. Funny story, I just sadly watched my neighbors’ businesses go down in flames on this day ?… Previously, I wasn’t superstitious at all, but I’m beginning to re-think the whole thing.
This post is awesome and super factual. Good job! x
That is so sad! I hope that no one is hurt
I personally had a great day, better than most! I managed to get the majority of my crystals cleansed as well, meaning that I can charge them when I like. But I can see where people are getting their opinions on the day/date.
It’s really interesting to look at where folklore like this started. Really helps you to better understand where people are coming from if you ask me
I am not superstitious at all, I like your idea though of a change and the opportunity to reflect on everything that has gone, great post x
Thank you! It’s a great time to refocus yourself and prepare for great things to come!
It’s interesting to learn about the possible origins of this superstition. I personally am not superstitious, but am aware of some superstitions across different cultures.
It’s interesting to note that that Chinese people are superstitious when it comes to the number 4, often leaving it out on lift/elevator panels. People will even pay extra money to purchase phone numbers that don’t contain any 4s! This is because the word for 4 and death are very similar in Chinese.
It’s really interesting to see the differences between cultures, isn’t it? 13 is a lucky number for Italians, for example
I’m not too superstitious around Friday the 13th, but I am fully aware of the powers of the full moon!
My 12-year-old son insisted my husband take him to see IT 2 last night on Friday the 13th during the full moon. Now that is just plain insanity ????
That sounds like a fun way to celebrate! I’m sure the theaters were PACKED for it
I had no idea there were so many links to Friday 13th, that’s fascinating. The day in general means nothing to me, I forgot the date until I started seeing things on Twitter, I’ve always found it quite funny how some streets don’t have a number 13 and hotels skip it too x
It’s funny to see how superstition can be tied in on such a large public scale, isn’t it?
Okay Britt, this was an awesome post, you explained things I’ve never considered or understood, giving these aspects of our complicated culture some context. It’s as if the 13th has become a self fulfilling prophesy in our society with people reacting to the superstition and actually creating a false reality. Thanks for taking the time to do the research and share you findings.
I fully believe that is it entirely – We, as a society, have made such a big deal out of the fact that it’s an ‘unlucky day’ that suddenly anything that goes wrong that day is due to the superstition… Not like there are bad things happening every other day of the year, right? lol
Wow! So interesting! it was something that I always wanted to know! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for reading!
I find it interesting that there is a Christian superstition related to Friday 13th because I was raised in a fundamentalist christian household and got taught that Superstition was the work of the devil and not to believe in it.
I have always found it interesting when I hear Christians teaching the anti-superstition theology considering the fact there are a number of beliefs like this that combine Christianity and superstition in some way.
True that last Friday was the 13th! I am not superstitious but it is always so interesting to know more behind a belief, even more so when it’s about Friday 13th. because it seems to have such an impact!
That’s what intrigues me so much about superstitions and folklore, looking at where they came from and which of these beliefs took off to have a big cultural impact versus those that seem to fade off into the distance
I found this post absolutely fascinating, I learned so much. I knew about Loki causing Baldr’s death but not about the 13 association. And I’ve learned a new word too, paraskevidekatriaphobia, not that I ecpect to be using it any time soon, haha ? x
Lisa | http://www.lisasnotebook.com
Oh come on, you mean it won’t casually slip into conversation on the regular? lol
This is so interesting! My birthday actually falls on Friday 13th this year hahaha, I’m not really superstitious although I have had a few bad run ins with the day, last year I smashed my phone into bits but appart from that it’s been smooth sailing haha x
Kayleigh Zara ? http://www.kayleighzaraa.com
I would LOVE to have a Friday the 13th birthday lol I’m not usually one to make a big deal out of birthdays, but I would be all over making it a big celebration that year!
This is such an interesting post! I’ve known my whole life Friday 13th is supposed to be unlucky but never thought to research why! Numerology is a fascinating concept. In Japan, the numbers 7 and 8 are considered lucky and the number 4 is never used in buildings for floor numbers as it’s considered a bad number!
Yes, the number 13 is actually lucky in some cultures! The concept of it all seriously fascinates me – I may have gotten lost in the black hole that is the internet doing the research necessary for this post lol
This was very interesting to read. Great post, I learned a lot from it.
Really informative post 🙂 I love this sort of stuff. It’s always great to learn and I’m really into superstitions 🙂
I had a blast learning a little more while writing it too!
I’m not superstitious and I really enjoyed reading about the origins of Friday 13th. Although I can’t hear the name Loki without thinking of the Marvel version of that God, lol. That’s definitely something he would have done though. For me, Friday 13th is an excuse to binge watch horror movies! Not that I needed any more. ?
Definitely a great excuse to binge watch horror movies – not that anyone needs an excuse, but why not! lol
I’ve never really been superstitious about the day but I like that there’s a bit of fuss about it. This was a really interesting read and quite cool seeing the significance / completeness of the number 12 as I’ve never given it much thought 🙂
I don’t think it’ll stop me living life normally on Friday the 13th though 🙂
I always find it fascinating to dig into the reason why superstitions and cultural beliefs come into play.
So much research went into this, I had no idea even the Norse gods influenced the date! For me, I think if you hype it up to be a bad day, you’ll manifest a bad day, so I just see it as Friday or a cool witchy day like the recent one.
Ash | thisdreamsalive.wordpress.com
I love looking at the more positive side, focusing on the ability to harness the energy associated with a day like this!