Friday, June 13, 2014

The Myth of Friday the 13th

In today’s world, the phrase "Friday the 13th" rolls off the tongue, instinctively linked to bad luck and strange happenings. Everyone knows Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day. But why does it have such a bad reputation? 
The origin of fears surrounding Friday the 13th is unclear. According to folklorists, there is no written evidence for a "Friday the 13th" superstition before the 19th century. The earliest known documented reference in English occurs in henry Sutherland Edwards' 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini (an Italian composer best known for the opera "The Barber of Seville"), who died on a Friday 13th. 
The Thirteen Club Registration Flyer
One theory states that Friday the 13th is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that 13 is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day. In 1881, an organization called the Thirteen Club was started in an attempt to improve the number's reputation. The 13 members of the group walked under ladders and spilled salt at the first meeting in an attempt to dissuade any negative associations with the number. Despite these efforts, the number 13 continues to have an unlucky association to this day. Thirteen is so disliked that many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue, many high-rise buildings avoid having a 13th floor, some hospitals avoid labeling rooms with the number 13 and many airports will not have a gate 13. 
In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of divine organizational arrangement or chronological completeness, as reflected in the 12 months of the year, 12 hours of the day, the 12 deities of Olympus, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 Apostles of Jesus, the 12 successors if Muhammad in Shia Islam, 12 signs of the Zodiac, the 12 years of the Buddhist cycle, 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. 
Friday has been considered an unlucky day at least since the 14th century's The Canterbury Tales, and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects. Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus on the Friday before Easter. The connection between the Friday the 13th superstition and the Knights Templar was popularized in Dan Brown's 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code and in John J. Robinson's 1989 work Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry, and also in the Maurice Druon historical novel series Les Rois Maudits (English translation The Accursed Kings).
Jacques de Molay sentenced to the stake in 1314,
from the Chronicle of France
On Friday, 13 October 1307, hundreds of the Knights Templar were arrested in France, an action apparently motivated financially and undertaken by the efficient royal bureaucracy to increase the prestige of the crown. Philip IV was the force behind this ruthless move, but it has also tarnished the historical reputation of Clement V. From the very day of Clement V's coronation, the king falsely charged the Templars with heresy, immorality and abuses, and the scruples of the Pope were compromised by a growing sense that the burgeoning French State might not wait for the Church, but would proceed independently. It is further said Jacques de Molay, Magister (Master of the Knights of the Temple) cursed King Philip IV of France and his descendants from his execution pyre. As he was about to be executed, he appealed “from this your heinous judgment to the living and true God, who is in Heaven”, warning the pope that, within a year and a day, he and Philip IV would be obliged to answer for their crimes in God’s presence. Philip and Clement V both died within a year of Molay’s execution. However, experts agree that this is a relatively recent correlation, and most likely a modern-day invention.

The fear of Friday the 13th has been called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom "Friday" is named in English and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number thirteen.

(Information courtesy of Thank you!)

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