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Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th, also known as Friday 13 or Friday the thirteenth, has been considered as a day of bad luck in various countries for many years.

Illustration image
Friday the 13th: an ominous day?
©iStockphoto.com/Studio-Annika

However, contrary to popular belief that Friday 13 is an unlucky day, it is actually regarded as a lucky day by some people and in some cultures.

The meaning of Friday

What do people do?

Many parties, some with themes similar to Halloween, are celebrated on Friday 13.

Some charities use Friday 13 to hold fund raising events. Friday 13 is a big celebration for motorcyclists at Port Dover in Ontario, Canada. PD13, as it’s called, attracts large crowds.

Friday 13 in August is considered unluckier than any other Friday 13 in Brazil, especially as agosto (August) rhymes with desgosto (sorrow).

Lucky in Spain

In many Spanish speaking countries, the movie "Friday the 13th" was renamed to Tuesday the 13th ("Martes 13") Tuesday 13 is believed to be a day of bad luck, not Friday 13. Many people also believe Friday 13 is a lucky day for children to be born.

Some people have won millions of dollars through the lottery on Friday 13. According to CNN.com, one British couple won $17 million after buying their lottery ticket on Friday 13, the same day that their mirror at home fell and broke!

Real fear - friggatriskaidekaphobia

The fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia - "Frigg" is the Norse goddess whom Friday is named after and "triskaidekaphobia" means the fear of "13". It's also known as paraskevidekatriaphobia, partly from the Greek word Friday. It is a real fear - some people who have this disorder are even too afraid to say the words “Friday the 13th”. Others avoid flying on a plane, going to work, or even getting out of bed. According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, millions of Americans are afraid of Friday the 13th. Symptoms of this fear range from mild anxiety and a nagging sense of doom to full-blown panic attacks.

Judas - 13th guest at Last Supper

Some say that the concepts of Friday and the number 13 as being an unlucky are linked to the Bible. For example, Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, has been labelled as ""the 13th guest" at the Last Supper.

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Events that supposedly occurred on a Friday include the great flood during the time of Noah, the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel, the day Eve tempted Adam with the apple, and the day Jesus Christ died. On Friday 13, October 1307, a warrant was issued for the Knights Templars to be arrested. Masses of Templars were tortured or executed by burning at the stake.

Norse God disrupts banquet

The superstition surrounding Friday 13 could also be linked to Norse mythology. According to legend, 12 gods were at a banquet at Valhalla when Loke, the demi god of mischief who was not invited, turned up, bringing the total number of guests to 13. He was responsible for the chaos that led to the death of one of the good gods – Balder – so all the gods grieved.

Symbols

The ancient Egyptians thought the number 13 was lucky because they believed that the 13th stage of life was related to the afterlife. After the decline of the ancient Egyptian civilization the number 13 was still associated with death but with fear.

Some people believe that the number 13 and black cats, which are associated with Friday 13, are symbols of femininity. Friday the 13th has been commercialized by Hollywood movies such as American cult horror film “Friday the 13th” and its sequels. An image of a hockey mask is often associated with the film.

Topics: Calendar

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