Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday the 13th - A Lucky Day

Okay, a lot of people feel that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day. Those who fear it suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia — a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th. One of the earliest concrete taboos associated with the number 13 — a taboo still observed by some superstitious folks today, evidently — is said to have originated in the East with the Hindus, who believed, for some reason, that it is always unlucky for 13 people to gather in one place — say, at dinner.

The ancient Vikings claimed that Loki, Evil One, brought about the negative association with the number 13. The story goes that twelve gods were invited to a banquet at Valhalla. Loki, the Evil One, god of mischief, had been left off the guest list but crashed the party, bringing the total number of attendees to 13. True to character, Loki raised hell by inciting Hod, the blind god of winter, to attack Balder the Good, who was a favorite of the gods. Hod took a spear of mistletoe offered by Loki and obediently hurled it at Balder, killing him instantly. All Valhalla grieved. And although one might take the moral of this story to be "Beware of uninvited guests bearing mistletoe," the Norse themselves apparently concluded that 13 people at a dinner party is just plain bad luck.

Some say the number 13 is unlucky because there were 13 present at the Last Supper, with one of them betraying Jesus. Oh, and the Crucifixion took place on a Friday, too.

One theory, recently offered up as historical fact in the novel The Da Vinci Code, holds that the negative association with Friday the 13th came about not as the result of a convergence, but a catastrophe, a single historical event that happened nearly 700 years ago.

The catastrophe was the decimation of the Knights Templar, the legendary order of "warrior monks" formed during the Christian Crusades to combat Islam. Renowned as a fighting force for 200 years, by the 1300s the order had grown so pervasive and powerful it was perceived as a political threat by kings and popes alike and brought down by a church-state conspiracy, as recounted by Katharine Kurtz in Tales of the Knights Templar (Warner Books: 1995):

"On October 13, 1307, a day so infamous that Friday the 13th would become a synonym for ill fortune, officers of King Philip IV of France carried out mass arrests in a well-coordinated dawn raid that left several thousand Templars — knights, sergeants, priests, and serving brethren — in chains, charged with heresy, blasphemy, various obscenities, and homosexual practices. None of these charges was ever proven, even in France — and the Order was found innocent elsewhere — but in the seven years following the arrests, hundreds of Templars suffered excruciating tortures intended to force 'confessions,' and more than a hundred died under torture or were executed by burning at the stake."

Personally, I feel Friday the 13th is a lucky day. Maybe I just like the number. Or maybe I refuse to let anyone else cloud my attitude and put a negative spin on the day. Perhaps I don't want to let it become an issue. I have enough things with which to concern myself. How do you feel about Friday the 13th? Do you find it lucky? Unlucky? Neutral?

For those of you paraskevidekatriaphobists out there, stay inside July 13. It falls on a Friday.


Blogger Robin L. Rotham said...

Friday the 13th has never bothered me -- I'm more a TGIF kind of girl. It's the other days of the week that give me problems... :D

9:34 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Parker said...

I love these meanderings back into history, trying to figure out how our sayings, phobias, etc. came about. Of course, we'll never be able to penetrate the mists of time and know for sure. But it's fascinating!

10:54 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home