Ah, Friday the 13th! Be afraid, be very afraid.
Well, the number has to do with several events in myth and ancient history.
Most familiar to Americans and Christians worldwide would be the fact that there were twelve apostles and Jesus, making the number 13, and, hm, we all know about Judas, whose name has become synonymous with betrayal, and it’s hard to thinking of a time of greater fear or mourning than the death of Christ.
And, remember, Jesus Christ was crucified on a Friday.
Beyond that, once Christianity was established, and looking into Judaism and the Moslem religions, we know that there were angels, and once there were angels, there were fallen angels—including the devil, or Satan. In ancient times, covens consisted of the number 12—but, actually, they were considered to consist of 13—Satan and his twelve apostles.
Actually, originally, some cultures saw the number 13 as lucky. Somehow, across the millennia, they were voted down. In certain ancient societies, the number 13 was viewed as an odd number—after all, there were twelve months. But this came about in a strange way, and not to get the battle of the sexes going, 13 was fine in matriarchal societies because there were (usually) 13 cycles for a woman in a year. When matriarchal societies gave way to male dominated cultures, well, that 13 had to go, and the solar calendar built the hell out of the lunar.
The Hindus consider 13 an unlucky number for any grouping. They might have somehow gotten that from the Norse. Once upon a time, the gods were having a grand old time at Valhalla. Only twelve gods were invited, but—totally uninvited—Loki showed up anyway, making the number 13. Loki then tricked Hoder, the blind god of darkness, into shooting Balder, the god of joy and happiness, with an arrow dipped in mistletoe. Balder died, and the world became dark, and, naturally, joy and happiness departed the world. Okay, no joy and happiness sounds very unlucky indeed.
They say that people who feel that there are unlucky are more disturbed by the day than others. We’ve all noticed that some buildings don’t have a 13th floor. Some people won’t go to work, and others won’t dare step out the door, that’s how bad it might be!
There’s a name for it.
Okay, so these are some aspects of our little human minds and psyches that lead to the fear of 13—but Friday? Well, there is the Crucifixion. It was also hanging day in the middle ages and so on, but worse! Friday was dedicated to Freya, the Norse goddess who was dedicated to love and sex, among other things. And in Rome, Friday had been dedicated to Venus, another mistress of love—and sex.
When trying to tamp down the ancient religions, the Christian rulers wanted to be very careful with Friday—which became known as the witch’s Sabbath. It was just a bad day all along, as they saw it.
I happen to like Friday the 13th. My sister was due to be married on Saturday, the 14th—a big grand church wedding. Well, she’d forgotten to get her wedding license, so she had to fly with her groom to be to Georgia, where she didn’t need to have the same waiting period to be married legally–so that she could be married in the beautiful ceremony that was planned. (My parents, naturally, were ready to throttle her.) Anyway, time went by, she celebrated both, her church wedding in Florida—and her first wedding , in Georgia, on Friday 13th. She wore a black dress—they had to pack fast!
My nephew, DJ, one of my favorite people in the word, was born on Friday, February 13th, 1981. If that’s not lucky, I don’t know what is!