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Fascinating Friday the 13th – History, Superstitions, and Ways to Celebrate

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Ever wondered about Friday the 13th history? The origins around the superstition of Friday the 13th is arguable but still fascinating!

Paraskavedekatriaphobia, or the fear of Friday the 13th. Really unsure why that name has to be so ridiculous. Where does this superstition that has turned into a legitimate fear come from though? Is it a worldwide superstition? Do some people celebrate it instead of run from it? Friday the 13th history is interesting, but a tad confusing too.

There are many ideas surrounding the origin of Friday the 13th and no clear answer on which one is correct or agreed on the most.

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Norse Mythology Origins of Friday the 13th

The Friday the 13th superstition is said to date back pretty far – all the way to Norse mythology. In Norse mythology, there are 12 gods who had dinner at Valhalla, but they were interrupted by a 13th guest. Who was that 13th guest? Well, none other than the mischievous Loki.

It is said that Loki tricked Höðr (the blind god of winter) into shooting his own brother Baldr (the god of summer) with a magical spear tipped with mistletoe (his own version of kryptonite). The number 13 was branded as unlucky because of the loss caused by the unwanted 13th guest.

Numerology Origins of Friday the 13th

The number 12 has regularly emerged as a “complete” number among many cultures throughout history. You’ve got 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 inches in a foot, 12 sons of Odin, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 Gods of Olympus, 12 Jyotirlingas or Hindu shrines, 12 successors of Muhammad in Shia Islam, and 12 tribes of Israel.

Jesus was betrayed by one of his 12 apostles who – wait for it – was the 13th guest to arrive for the Last Supper.

Because the number 12 is seen as so “complete” which I interpret as “perfect”, it is seen that by surpassing that number, the balance of things is interrupted. The number 13 bears the stigma of misfortune and bad luck.

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Has the Number 13 Always been Seen as Unlucky?

Pre-Christianity, Friday the 13th was actually considered a powerful day for feminine energy and creativity. Before patriarchy (doesn’t patriarchy just ruin everything), Friday the 13th was considered the day of the Goddess – a day to worship the Divine Feminine that lives in us all.

Thirteen is naturally a female number.

It represents the average number of a woman’s cycle in a year and it is the number of annual cycles of the moon – commonly thought of as female energy.

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Why Friday though?

So, many people think of the number 13 as unlucky enough. But, why is Friday the 13th supposed to be even worse?

Friday comes into the mix mostly due to the early accounts of Jesus’s crucifixion likely taking place on Friday as Fridays were the normal crucifixion day in Roman times.

In Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, it reads “And on a Friday fell all this mischance.”

In America during the late 19th century, Friday was the day when all executions were held.

Friday the 13th essentially became more unlucky by combining the two unlucky things: the number 13 and Fridays.

However, the first reference of Friday the 13th doesn’t show up until 1913.

Knights of Templar Origins of Friday the 13th

It has been rumored that the Friday the 13th superstition came from Friday, October 13, 1307 – the day on which the Knights Templar were wiped out by King Philip of France.

But, this is apparently just a coincidence since there is no evidence at all.

How has this Superstition Affected Everyday Life?

It won’t be difficult to find a building that doesn’t have a 13th floor. They literally just skip it. Let’s not get into the semantics that there is still a 13th floor, it’s just not labeled as such.

Most skyscrapers and hotels started lacking this “unlucky” floor when during the early 1990s buildings in New York City began omitting the number.

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Fun fact – the Empire State Building does have a 13th floor.

Some street addresses skip right over 13. Airports may often skip the 13th gate. Many people avoid Friday the 13th when planning big life events such as weddings.

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Is it Just America or Do Others Consider Friday the 13th Unlucky?

It seems as though Friday the 13th is much more of a Western thing, especially America.

In Greece and Spanish-speaking countries, Tuesday the 13th is considered the unluckiest day – not Friday.

In Italy, Friday the 17th is unlucky. Reason being that when rearranging Roman numeral XVII, you can create the word VIXI which translates to “my life is over” from Latin.

In Eastern cultures, 13 is actually seen as a lucky number. In Hinduism, the 13th is dedicated to Lord Shiva. In Thailand, April 13th is the new year and when Songkran is celebrated. The new year represents purification and washing away one’s sins and bad luck. Best way to do that? By soaking anyone and everyone with water guns and water balloons, or the Songkran Festival. In China, the number 1, when it is in the position of tens, sounds like the word ‘definite’ (shi or 实) in Mandarin; while the number 3 sounds like life, living or birth (生). As a result, 13, which is pronounced as shisan in Mandarin, can mean ‘definitely vibrant’.

Does Anyone Celebrate Friday the 13th?

While some may be staying home and avoiding any chance of unluckiness, others are celebrating.

Horror fans may spend the day marathoning Friday the 13th movies.

Modern-day and New Age Pagans are reclaiming Friday the 13th as a celebration instead of something to be avoided. Instead of seeing the number 13 negatively, 13 is associated with luck, good fortune, the Great Goddess, and fertility. Many spells and ceremonies are conducted on this day to harness the energy of the day.

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Things to Do on Friday the 13th

In case you want to actually celebrate and honor Friday the 13th, there are plenty of ways you can spend the day.

Get Friday the 13th Tattoos

Tattoo shops have been capitalizing on this day for a while now. You’ll often find shops doing flash specials on Friday the 13th usually for $13. They’re small but its a fun way to celebrate the day and get a cheap and new tattoo!

Visit the Filming Locations for Friday the 13th

The filming locations for the original Friday the 13th – released in 1980 – include Blairstown, Hardwick, and Hope, New Jersey.

The actual campsite in the movie was filmed at Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco which is a still active Boy Scouts camp. The camp is not open to the public, but every so often they open it for visitors – and always on a Friday the 13th.

The Friday the 13th remake (2009) filming locations include Austin, Bastrop, Round Rock, and Wimberley, Texas.

Throw a Party – for 13!

Have a horror party equipped with horror movies and a ouija board. But, you have to have 13 guests just to keep the theme alive!

Visit a Haunted Location Near You

Take the chance to spend Friday the 13th by visiting a local haunted location.

Adopt a Black Cat

Black cats (and dogs) are the least likely to get adopted out of all adoptable animals. And, black cats have long had their own superstitions tied to them. So, if you’re in a position to do so and you were already considering adoption, head to your local shelter and see if there are any black cats.

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Ashley Hubbard is a writer, photographer, and blogger based in Nashville, Tennessee. When she's not searching out the strange and unusual things in life, she's searching out vegan food and is passionate about sustainability, animal rights, and social justice.

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