Paraskevidekatriaphobia – Say That Five Times Fast

In honor of today being Friday the thirteenth, I decided to do a little research into the origins behind the superstition.  Just what makes this particular day so unlucky?  Was there a ever an event behind the creation of the legend, or was a culmination of different events?  What caused paraskevidekatriaphobica (fear of Friday the thirteenth)?

According to the website UrbanLegends.com (one of the better and more informative sources I could find on this topic), both the number thirteen and the sixth day if the week (Friday) have been ill omens for quite some time.  The exact reason behind the number thirteen’s unlucky status is unknown, but several theories have been documented in an attempt to give explanation to it.  The theory I found most interesting was the story about the twelve gods.  Twelve gods were sent an invitation to attend a banquet (in Valhalla), and Loki – the god of mischief – decided to show up uninvited, subsequently making the number of guests to this dinner party thirteen.  While there, Loki caused one of the gods (Hod) to kill Balder, a favorite among the gods.  This sparked the Norse legend advising against thirteen people attending the same dinner party – now an omen of bad luck.  The website goes on to remind its readers of one of the most famous dinners, the Last Supper, and of its thirteen attendees – one of which betrayed Jesus and later committed suicide.  This dinner is said to have taken place on a Friday.

Legends seem to have always described Friday as being a particularly unlucky day – or at least they have for the last several hundred years.  There is a passage on the site in particular that caught my attention, and rather than attempting to paraphrase I am providing the content to you straight from the source.  “One hundred years ago, the British government sought to quell the longstanding superstition among seamen that setting sail on Fridays was unlucky. A special ship was commissioned and given the name “H.M.S. Friday.” They laid her keel on a Friday, launched her on a Friday, selected her crew on a Friday, and hired a man named Jim Friday to be her captain. To top it off, H.M.S. Friday embarked on her maiden voyage on a Friday — and was never seen or heard from again” (http://urbanlegends.about.com/cs/historical/a/friday_the_13th_3.htm).  Guess they sure showed that superstition a thing or two.

As for myself, I have never been able to buy into the superstition.  I believe we make our own luck.  My parents are celebrating an anniversary today – it was twenty-eight years ago to this day – January 13th, Friday – that they met for the first time.  They have been married for twenty-seven years.

Aside