Today is Friday the 13th. We don’t give it a thought other than to mention it when it occurs. How did this superstition ever start anyway?
Here’s some information from History.com that explains the potential origins of this often feared day of the month:
“Long considered a harbinger of bad luck, Friday the 13th has inspired a late 19th-century secret society, an early 20th-century novel, a horror film franchise, and not one but two unwieldy terms—paraskavedekatriaphobia and friggatriskaidekaphobia—that describe the fear of this supposedly unlucky day.
The Fear of 13
Just like walking under a ladder, crossing paths with a black cat, or breaking a mirror, many people hold fast to the belief that Friday the 13th brings bad luck. Though it’s uncertain exactly when this particular tradition began, negative superstitions have swirled around the number 13 for centuries.
While Western cultures have historically associated the number 12 with completeness (there are 12 days of Christmas, 12 months and zodiac signs, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 gods of Olympus, and 12 tribes of Israel, just to name a few examples), its successor 13 has a long history as a sign of bad luck.
The ancient Code of Hammurabi, for example, reportedly omitted a 13th law from its list of legal rules. Though this was probably a clerical error, superstitious people sometimes point to this as proof of 13’s longstanding negative associations.
Fear of the number 13 has even earned a psychological term: triskaidekaphobia.
READ MORE: What’s So Unlucky About the Number 13?
Why is Friday the 13th Unlucky?
According to biblical tradition, 13 guests attended the Last Supper, held on Maundy Thursday, including Jesus and his 12 apostles (one of whom, Judas, betrayed him). The next day, of course, was Good Friday, the day of Jesus’ crucifixion.
The seating arrangement at the Last Supper is believed to have given rise to a longstanding Christian superstition that having 13 guests at a table was a bad omen—specifically, that it was courting death.
Though Friday’s negative associations are weaker, some have suggested they also have roots in the Christian tradition: Just as Jesus was crucified on a Friday, Friday was also said to be the day Eve gave Adam the fateful apple from the Tree of Knowledge, as well as the day Cain killed his brother, Abel.”
Photo from one year ago today, January 13, 2022: