OPS Central - "TGIF 13"
“TGIF 13” (Thank God It’s Friday… The 13th)
Written by Kevin Woodrow
SUBJECT: HISTORY OF FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH
DATE: 04 - 09 - 07
Though the title of this week’s article is “TGIF 13” (Thank God It’s Friday The 13th), with popular culture, being grateful for that day is not the norm. There is a certain aura of evil that has always seemed to surround any Friday that so happens to fall on the 13th day of any month. Many feel that bad luck may befall them on this day. Is this true? Better yet, how did all of this madness about one little ole day get started?
Well, since this coming Friday will indeed be Friday, April 13, 2007, I, along with everyone here at OPS, thought it would beneficial to us, and to everyone else, for me to dig into the history of the day and see what truths I could uncover. And, while I’m at it, I’ll insert a few noteworthy trivia pieces I found about this ominous day. So, without further a due, grab your rabbit’s foot, pluck you a four-leaf clover, cross your fingers, and lets see what we can find out.
Before I get started, I’d like to say that, in my findings, I have seen no true event that seems to have definitely started the stigma of this unlucky day. Instead, I found that there is much to be said about the history of the number 13 and it’s association with misfortune. And, there are deep ties between the day of Friday and negative occurrences. So, it is best to look at the separate histories of each of these two gloomy symbols.
THE NUMBER 13
In many buildings there is no 13th floor. In many cities there is no 13th Street. Some believe that having 13 letters in your name brings misfortune to your life. Many insist that having 13 guests at a dinner table means bad business. Yes, the number 13 does carry a heavy burden of badness. After all, it is referred to as “The Devil’s Dozen”. With a name like that, good night, you’re really asking for trouble. However, a legend like this doesn’t just appear out of thin air.
Probably one of the earliest possible theories I’ve read is of ancient man trying to count. As odd as this may sound, ancient man supposedly, learning to count, used all 10 fingers… and his/her 2 feet, not counting the toes. So, in doing so, they could only count to 12. Therefore, if they tried to count to 13, they were going beyond their “boundaries“, which would have been considered to be taboo. Yeah, I know, I’m thinking exactly what you’re thinking… why didn’t they count their toes? This is not a very logical theory.
Another proposed theory that makes a little more sense is that the number 13 was purposefully made to seem evil by the founders of patriarchal religion in the early days of western civilization. You see, 13 represented femininity. This is so, supposedly, because this is the number used in goddess-worshipping cultures, as 13 corresponded with the number of lunar (or menstrual) cycles in a year (13x28=364 days). There are many ancient carvings from goddess-worshipping cultures found with the number 13 represented on them. It is said that as the solar calendar became preferred over the lunar one with the rise of male-dominated civilizations, so did the number 12 over the number 13. Thus, 13 became a number associated with negativity.
One final reason of why the number 13 is considered bad is one that many of us, I’m sure, are somewhat familiar with - The Last Supper. Remember earlier when I said that some people believe having 13 people at a dinner table is bad? This could be why. As the Bible tells us, there were exactly 13 people present at Jesus’ last supper. And, of course, one of the people at that table, Judas, would go on to betray Jesus. Thus, leading to his crucifixion. There is even more information pertaining to this event when I talk about Fridays later in this article.
Interestingly enough, 13 has actually been a positive number in some cultures. In ancient Egypt, for example, they believed there were 13 crucial stages of spiritual ascension. 12 of those stages took place on earth, while the 13th took place in the afterlife. So, in that, 13 represented death. And, to them, death was all part of their journey. However, although death to them was a great thing, you can see how this number, representing death, could translate throughout history as a bad omen as well. After all, many people do indeed fear death. Befittingly, they would also fear the number 13.
Have you ever heard that your not supposed to change your bed on Friday? Supposedly, it will give you bad dreams. Or, have you ever started a trip on Friday? That is supposed to bring misfortune to your journey. It is even said that ships should not set sail on Friday, due to sailors’ superstitions of bad luck on the sea. Friday, throughout history, has truly been known as a bad day of sorts. Here are a few events that have given Friday a less-than-glorious name.
Much of the reputation of this day stems from Biblical stories. For instance, Eve supposedly tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit on a Friday. For that, they were cast out of the Garden of Eden. The story is also told that the Great Flood started on a Friday. This all led to the epic of Noah and The Arc. Another example is that it was apparently on a Friday when God tongue-tied the builders of the Tower of Babel. That will ruin your day for sure. The Temple of Solomon was also destroyed on a Friday. And, possibly the most notable of all of these examples is that of Christ’s crucifixion. This event is supposed to have taken place on a Friday. So, with the crucifixion taking place on a Friday, and with 13 guests being at The Last Supper, we do have a connection between the two symbols. Interesting, indeed.
In old Rome, Fridays were definitely a dark day. During that time, this day was set aside for executions. Later, Britain would also hold this day in the same regard, calling it “Hangman’s Day”.
However, in many pre-Christian cultures, Friday was the day of Sabbath. This was a day set aside for worship. And, it was believed that those who did things that benefited themselves on this day would not receive the blessings. This could be the reason why some people still think that starting a trip or changing your bed on Friday can bring bad luck. This would definitely be a reason why.
FRIDAY MEETS THE NUMBER 13
Although throughout history there are many events that have scarred the reputations of both the number 13 and Fridays, there still remains no definite time when Friday the 13th first became unlucky in and of itself. The earliest time that it’s recorded of anything noteworthy happening in history on that day, that I can see, would be when the Knights Templar were all arrested in France on the same day by agents of King Phillip IV. This occurred on Friday, October 13, 1307.
However, the capture of the Knights Templar doesn’t seem likely to be the reason for the day’s ominous meaning, because Friday the 13th wasn’t mentioned in a bad way in any historic publications until the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. If it was the Knights Templar event that caused this day, then why did it take so long for the legend to grow?
My opinion on the subject, like the opinions of most other articles that I have read, is that Friday the 13th became an unlucky day because the media outlets of the late 19th and early 20th centuries decided to see it this way. I think that since both symbols, in many cultures, represented unlucky or evil things, then it just became natural that when that number collided with that day, it obviously had to mean something bad was going to happen. It’s a natural assumption, and makes for a nice little myth.
And, maybe this is also fueled because having a Friday fall on the 13th of a month is a somewhat rare occurrence. Maybe it’s not as rare as you think, though. In fact, there is always at least one each year, but never more than three. As I’ve already noted, the next Friday the 13th will be this coming Friday. The next three that follow will be in July 2007, June 2008, and February 2009. As of recent years, it’s also been noticed that these creepy Fridays have seemed to fall either on or very near another occurrence that is linked with paranormal activity - the full moon. The last full mooned Friday the 13th was on October 13, 2000. Yeah, it was in October… even better (or worse, for that matter). The next Friday the 13th with a full moon will occur on September 13, 2019. Also, there is an asteroid named “99942 Apophis” out in space, and it is scheduled to have a very close encounter with Earth on Friday, April 13, 2029. Yes, so let’s definitely hope there’s no truth to the legend on that particular Friday. Mark that one down on your calendar.
Both the number 13 and the day of Friday have definitely left their individual paths of superstition throughout the pages of history. Where those two paths actually crossed to form the grand day that most people recognize in popular culture is not clearly known. However, we can look closely at what created each individual legend, and see that it is obvious why it would make sense for such a day to be feared.
So, please, as the OPS Team embarks on it’s first Friday the 13th investigation this weekend… grab your rabbits foot, pluck a four-leaf clover, cross your fingers, and send your luck our way. Do we truly believe any bad luck is going to befall us because of this day? No. But, you know what? A little GOOD luck from everyone definitely wouldn’t hurt us.
Until next time,