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Friday the 13th - Curse or Coincidence?

Updated on January 14, 2012

Superstitions and Bad Luck

Do you consider yourself to be a superstitious person?

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Friggatriskaidekaphobiacs beware! It's the fruition of your worst fear -- fear of Friday the 13th. And you aren't alone; another 17 to 21 million others also cower in fear at facing another Friday the 13th. What is the reason for the stigma attached to this random calendar day? Is it a day that's truly surrounded by shadows and curses, or are these incidents merely some random coincidence?

Why is Friday the 13th Considered Unlucky?

While superstition surrounding Friday the 13th rarely dates back before the 19th century, historians and conspiracy theorists alike can explain it back to the days of Christ; because He was crucified on a Friday which makes Friday the 13th an unlucky day. Here are some other reasons given throughout history:

  • Numerology claims the number 12 is a complete number. There are 12 months in a calendar year; there were 12 disciples with Jesus; and there are 12 days of Christmas. 13 is an irregular number, making it unlucky.
  • During the 14th century, The Canterbury Tales regarded Friday as an unlucky day. Black Friday represented stock market crashes and other tragedies.
  • More recently, the popular fiction novel, The Da Vinci Code, brought attention to an otherwise little known superstition between Friday the 13th and the Knights Templar. The Freemasons claim that the Church set out to slaughter many of the Knights Templar on Friday the 13th, even though many escaped persecution when they fled to a new life in Scotland.

Don't Spill the Salt!

Worried about upping your chances of bad luck on Friday the 13th? Here are some things to avoid, in no particular (okay, completely alphabetical) order!

  • Chain Letters - Remember these things? I'll never forget the panic in my mother's eyes if she opened the mail box to find a chain letter. She'd shoo us kids into the yard after lunch and then sit at the kitchen table where she would painstakingly rewrite the required copies of the letter before burning the original. The next day saw the letters mailed out to more unlucky recipients.
  • Cooties - I haven't had a case of the cooties since the fourth grade, but it was bad enough to scare me away from boys until at least the seventh grade. At our last family gathering, my young nieces informed me that since my own childhood, imaginary technology has developed a type of cootie shot which both prevents and cures the dreaded ailment.
  • Knock on Wood - Do this for added good luck when in conversation with another person. A good example of this is, "Hopefully the outburst from his ex-wife some months ago will be the last we hear from her, knock on wood."
  • Shoes on a Table - Everyone knows that putting your shoes on a table is a surefire way to suffer terribly bad luck. And even if this isn't true, why the heck are your shoes on the table anyway? Don't you know how nasty that is? Eww...germs!
  • Spilling Salt - Ever look closely at Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper? He depicts Judas knocking over the container of salt. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the story behind this age old superstition.

There are so many other superstitions and old wives tales beyond this scant list, each with its own history. Sweep under a maiden's feet and she'll never marry. Hang a horseshoe upside down and all its luck will fall out; hang it right side up to hold the luck in. Four leaf clovers are lucky, but tick off Curupira, the supernatural guardian of the forests to risk becoming lost forever in the thick groves of trees there.

What other superstitions do you follow and hold near? Are you a superstitious person who avoids black cats and ladders? Maybe you carry special talisman, like a rabbit's foot key chain or your birthstone for good luck. I'd love to hear all about them in the comments section.

Thanks for reading!

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