Why Do We Fear Friday The 13th?

Today is Friday the 13th again! Bwaahaaahaaa! And believe it or not, some people are pretty worked up about it still, even in these modern times of the 21st Century. 

“According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed. It’s been estimated that [US]$800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day.” – as quoted at Wikipedia. Wow, really?

References to Friday the 13th as a day connected with bad luck generally began to appear around the mid-17th century. Quotes referencing Friday the 13th date back to 1656, or perhaps earlier and can be found in numerous citations throughout Western Literature.

Fridays were already generally considered a bad day for many ordinary tasks, from writing letters to conducting business and receiving medical treatment. And adding the unlucky 13 to that just made matters worse. So really, friggatriskaidekaphobia (fear of Friday) andTriskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13are two separate superstitions feared by some, that come together on certain days of the year to form one generally nervous day for everybody!

The origin of Friday the 13th seems to have come from an old Norse legend in mythology that describes the banishing of Frigga, the Norse god of love and fertility, to a distant mountain top when the various Norse and germanic tribes converted to Christianity. Frigga, formerly revered as a pretty fun and lustful girl, was then labeled a witch and apparently she wasn’t happy about it. The legend describes her plotting with (12) other witches and the devil (that makes 13) every Friday to plot their pranks and evil doings they had in store for mankind in the week ahead.

Another interesting reference to a bad Friday in history recounts France’s King Philip IV’s heinous betrayal of the Knights Templar, to whom he was already seriously indebted for their years of service to the crown. But his wars with England had depleted the royal treasury and the Templar Knights were known to have amassed a sizeable fortune during the Christian Crusades.

At dawn on the morning of October 13, 13o7 King Philip ordered his soldiers to round them all up on some trumped-up charge of heracy, have them executed and then he of course simply took over all their assets – bankruptcy problem solved. That, by the way, was a fairly common practice to eliminate debt with royalty in the middle ages.

So, whether you believe that today is a particularly unlucky day or not, at least it’s helpful to know why other people around you might be all worked up about it. They may not even know why for sure. It’s just common knowledge and everyone “knows” that Friday the 13th is unlucky. But now you know why. Happy 13th!


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