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Friday the 13th... Why all the superstition?

Friday the 13th, a traditional date of gloom and doom, comes first on February 13th again on March 13th and finally on November 13th making 2009 a very unique year indeed.

The last time there were three occurrences of Friday the 13th in the same year was 1998, and it won’t happen again until 2015.

So why is Friday the 13th such a freaky day?  For one thing, many people fear that date.  The clinical term for a fear of Friday the 13th is paraskavedekatriaphobia. 

The exact origins of the taboo surrounding Friday the 13th are unknown but according to Wikipedia it is a fairly recent phenomenon.  Before the 19th century there is no record of the date Friday the 13th being anything more sinister than just another day.

There are many different theories as to why people fear Friday the 13th and no one has been accepted as a definitive explanation.  Wikipedia explains the suspected origins of the Friday the 13th superstition:


Consequently, several theories have been proposed about the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition.

One theory states that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that thirteen is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day.

  • In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve signs of the zodiac, twelve hours of the clock, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, twelve gods of Olympus, etc. Whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.[4]
    •    Friday has been considered an unlucky day at least since the 14th century's The Canterbury Tales,[2] and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects. Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s.[5][8]

    On the other hand, another theory by author Charles Panati, one of the leading authorities on the subject of "Origins" maintains that the superstition can be traced back to ancient myth:

    The actual origin of the superstition, though, appears also to be a tale in Norse mythology. Friday is named for Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility. When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil - a gathering of thirteen - and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week. For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was known as "Witches' Sabbath."

    Another theory about the origin of the superstition traces the event to the arrest of the legendary Knights Templar. According to one expert:

    The Knights Templar were a monastic military order founded in Jerusalem in 1118 C.E., whose mission was to protect Christian pilgrims during the Crusades. Over the next two centuries, the Knights Templar became extraordinarily powerful and wealthy. Threatened by that power and eager to acquire their wealth, King Philip secretly ordered the mass arrest of all the Knights Templar in France on Friday, October 13, 1307 - Friday the 13th.

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