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Friday the 13th: A superstitious date rooted in history



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When the calendar reads October 13th and it coincides with a Friday, the superstitious among us might feel a tinge of unease. This date has been steeped in myths, stories, and a general aura of foreboding, particularly for those with triskaidekaphobia – the fear of the number 13.

Historical events and ancient tales play a part in the fear surrounding this day. Norse mythology tells a tale of Loki, the 13th god who was not invited but crashed a banquet of 12 gods. This resulted in chaos and the demise of Balder, a beloved god. Christianity also offers a narrative, with the Last Supper attended by 13 individuals, and the subsequent betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot taking place on a Friday.

October, with its association with Halloween, naturally amplifies the eeriness of Friday the 13th. A month recognized for haunted tales and horror stories, the day is a peak point of these celebrations.

The significance of 12, seen as a number symbolizing completeness, contrasts sharply with the perceived inauspicious nature of 13. This fear of the number 13 even had ancient implications, with claims that the Code of Hammurabi intentionally skipped a 13th law.

But it’s not just about the number 13. Fridays have their own set of historical tales of misfortune in Christian tradition, from Eve offering an apple to Adam, to Cain’s betrayal of Abel.

Interestingly, to challenge and mock the superstitions tied to this day, Captain William Fowler established the Thirteen Club in the late 1800s. This society saw members including U.S. presidents like Theodore Roosevelt and Grover Cleveland deliberately hosting dinners on the 13th to defy the superstitions.

The lore of Friday the 13th isn’t limited to ancient times. Pop culture has had its hand in intensifying this superstition. Thomas William Lawson’s 1907 novel, “Friday, the Thirteenth”, revolves around the malevolence associated with the date. In more modern times, the 1980 horror movie “Friday the 13th” introduced the world to the formidable Jason Voorhees.

Intriguingly, history also provides instances that might justify the superstition for some. For example, in 1307, the Knights Templar were seized and arrested by King Philip IV of France on this ominous date. Moreover, events like the 1940 Buckingham Palace bombing and the Costa Concordia cruise ship tragedy in 2012 both occurred on a Friday the 13th.

While its origins might be entwined in myths and ancient tales, Friday the 13th’s resonance in contemporary culture and its indelible mark on history cannot be disputed.

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