Next week we will have Friday 13th, which is considered to be an unlucky day in some Western cultures.
In one year there can be one, two or three Friday 13ths. In 2009 there were three, there was one in February, and one in March, and one in November.
But in 2010 there is only one. The next Friday 13th won’t be until May 2011.
Paraskevidekatriaphobia is fear of Friday 13th. It comes from three old Greek words, ‘paraskevi’ means Friday, ‘dekatria’ means 13, and ‘phobia’ means fear.
There is no doubt that 13 is considered by many people to be unlucky, for example:
Many buildings have no 13th floor.
Many condominiums have no apartment 13.
Many cities have no 13th Street nor 13th Avenue.
Many airports have no Gate 13.
Many hospitals and hotels have no Room 13.
Many people will leave a party or a meal with 13 guests.
And there are many more examples, plus of course Apollo 13!
So why is 13 so unlucky?
The most popular view is that there were 13 guests at the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, before he died, as shown in a famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci. Added to this is the view that 12 is a ‘complete’ or ‘perfect’ number. There are 12 months in the year, 12 signs of the Zodiac, 12 apostles of Jesus, 12 tribes of Israel, and many more, which suggests that 13 is an imperfect (and evil?) number.
And what about Friday?
Christian belief is that Jesus Christ died on a Friday, and it is also thought that Eve gave Adam an apple on a Friday.
So, 13 and Friday make a strong combination. On Friday October 13th 1307, about 700 years ago, King Philip of France arrested, tortured and killed thousands of Knights Templar, who were a very powerful group that protected Christians (though there are many stories of their corruption), and who are included in the book, ‘The da Vinci Code’.
There is also the fact that every month that includes Friday 13th starts with Sunday 1st which, according to Christians, is God’s day of rest, but why this is a sign of bad luck I don’t know.
One other fact: research in the UK shows that on Friday 13th there is less traffic on the streets (lots of people stay indoors), but there are more traffic accidents than normal. Is this because of bad luck, or because people get more nervous and panicky?
To be honest I’m not at all superstitious about Friday 13th, but I’m glad that my children weren’t born on this day.