Tomorrow it will be Friday the 13th, the only time it occurs in 2016. Whether this date incites sheer terror within you, as it does for approximately 17-21 million Americans, or not, Friday the 13th definitely rouses some very creepy sentiments. I was surprised to learn more about it and to discover (as I always love to do) a Nordic connection.
From a historical standpoint, the very day that incites weekly “TGIF!” chants actually is considered the unluckiest day of the week, even going back hundreds of years. For example, in Chaucer’s 14th century The Canterbury Tales he wrote, “And on a Friday fell all this mischance.” Furthermore, sailors believed that to embark on a journey on Friday was unfortunate, and farmers felt that planting crops on this day would end in misfortune. People even believed that being born on a Friday was unlucky. (“Master of Suspense” Alfred Hitchcock, who pioneered many elements of the suspense and psychological thriller genres, was born on Friday the 13th.)
The superstition intensified each time something disastrous occurred on a Friday, deepening the negative undertones. The 1929 “Black Friday” and1989 stock markets both crashed on Fridays, and Jesus was crucified on a Friday (some believe the 13th). However, even before Christ Friday was known as bad luck, so just why is number 13 unlucky?
In numerology, 12 is symbolic of perfection and completeness. For example, there are 12 months of the year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 hours in a day, 12 gods of Olympus and 12 Apostles. However, 13 is considered a transgression because trying to improve upon perfection incites greed, which summons misfortune (i.e., the 13th Apostle betrayed Jesus).
As noted earlier, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina millions of Americans have a fear of Friday the 13th. The phobia, known as friggatriskaidekaphobia, is a combination of the root words for ‘Friday’ (Norse Goddess Frigga, whom Friday is named for) and triskaidekaphobia, which is the fear of the number 13.
Frigga, keeper of peace and an upholder of moral codes, was a Scandinavian love goddess who was worshipped on the sixth day of the week. However, Christians called Frigga a witch, and considered Friday to be the witches’ day.
Today the negative feelings roused historically about Friday and the number 13 has carried over to our everyday lives. Some people refuse to marry on a Friday. Elevators and airport gates skip from 12 to 14, hotels omit the number 13, and athletes refuse to wear it. Additionally, it is estimated that $800 to $900 million is lost in business each Friday the 13th from canceled appointments and nonattendance, which slows economic activity.
However, belief in a Friday the 13th superstition could actually be even more dangerous for you, creating anxiety and distraction, which can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. So if you’ve learned anything about Friday the 13th, it’s to wake up and embrace the ‘TGIF!’, and if that doesn’t work, the next day is always Saturday!
In Other News:
I am ecstatic to report that my Scandinavian wanderlust will be a desire no more, as I am off to visit the land of The Danes and Swedes next week, and I could not be more ecstatic ! I will have so much to share when I return, so please tune in to hear all about my travels!
Smørrebrød Luncheon (formerly The Salad Luncheon) Saturday, May 21 (12pm) at The Danish Home of Chicago