It’s … Friday the 13th!

[Cue scary background music.]

Do you suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia?

Frigg spinning

(Frigg—sometimes anglicized to Frigga—is the powerful Norse goddess for whom “Friday” is named, and triskaidekaphobia means fear of the number thirteen.)

How did we come to be superstitious about Friday the 13th?

It’s All Norse to Me

Friday was actually considered lucky in pre-Christian times. But since then, it has taken on sinister connections: it’s supposedly the day Eve gave Adam the apple, the day the great flood started, the day the Temple of Solomon was destroyed … and of course the day Christ died on the cross.

It makes sense that the superstitious associations started when Christianity moved in, mainly to discredit and lessen Frigg worship.

The number 13 has inspired trepidation for centuries.

The death of Baldr

In numerology, 12 is the number of completeness: 12 apostles, 12 months in the year, 12 hours in the day, and so on.

The number 13 has been held as “unlucky” for various reasons for centuries: the code of Hammurabi omits number 13, tall buildings have no 13th floor, cities have no 13th street.

In Norse myth, the 12 gods were dining in Valhalla and were joined by a 13th uninvited guest—Loki—who perpetrated a ruse that resulted in the death of Baldr, killed by his own blind brother Hodr, and threw the earth into darkness.

The Marriage of Unlucky Friday and Unlucky 13

Knights Templar

The amalgamation of superstitions about the day and the number has much-contested origins. Some say it started with the publication in 1907 of Thomas Lawson’s book Friday, the Thirteenth. That’s pretty recent.

My favorite explanation for the dread cast on this day is the legendary mass arrest of the remaining Knights Templar in France by King Philip of France on Friday, October 13, 1307. Amid turmoil over power, money, and fealty, they were tortured, discredited, and eventually executed.  I’d call that pretty unlucky.

These days, for some of us, Friday the 13th is a great excuse to watch horror movies!

What’s your take on this superstition-inspiring day?

Here comes Jason

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