It’s that special day of the year again. This Friday will be the 3rd and final Friday the 13th of the year.
Like black cats and broken mirrors, the day has become synonymous with bad luck and dread in western culture.
According to NPR, fear of Friday the 13th is an actual clinical condition called paraskevidekatriaphobia.
People suffering from this condition fear the day so much that some actually refuse to fly, make business decisions, or even spend a lot of money on this most inauspicious of days.
According to National Geographic, “It’s been estimated that $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they normally would do.”
But this begs the question, why?
Accounts vary greatly as to the origins of the superstition of Friday the 13th. Some historians claim that the superstition surrounding the day most likely originated during the Middle Ages and may even have Biblical origins, according to the Telegraph.
One of the most popular legends surrounding the misfortune of Friday the 13th involves the events of Friday October 13th, 1307.
It was on this day that King Philip IV of France ordered the arrest and execution of all those associated with the Knights Templar to avoid having to pay back the massive financial debt he owed to the knightly order.
This legend was popularized when it was referenced in Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code.
Prior to this; however, Friday and the number 13 were both considered to unlucky. Geoffrey Chaucer referenced the belief that it was bad luck to start a journey or a project on a Friday in the Canterbury Tales.
In Christian tradition, Good Friday is remembered as the day when Jesus was crucified. Some biblical scholars actually claim that the crucifixion of Jesus actually took place on Friday the 13th.
The number 13 has also been considered unlucky in western culture since antiquity. A Norse myth told of a dinner party for 12 gods at which Loki, 13th guest, showed up and shot the god of joy and happiness according to Livescience. A similar belief exists that Judas the betrayer, was the 13th person to arrive at the last supper.
Today, Friday the 13th is most commonly associated with the Friday the 13th movie franchise.
But whether you’re talking about dead Templars or dead camp counselors, Friday the 13th continues to capture the imagination and hold a special place in western superstition.
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Cover Photo Credit: Ed Schipul/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)