Today is the 13th day of the month and today is Friday but in history it has been a longstanding sign of badluck. Friday the 13th birthed a secret society in the 19th century, a horror movie and two official terms to describe the fear of this supposedly unlucky day. Paraskavedekatriaphobia and friggatriskaidekaphobia are for phobias of Friday the 13th.
What started this superstition?
Just like whistling at night, beating a man with broom stick which are superstitious beliefs popular among Nigerians, Europeans hold steadfast beliefs that Friday the 13th is strongly associated with bad luck. The number 13 has been associated with bad luck & negative superstitions for centuries.
In Western Culture, the number 12 has been associated with being complete for example, the 12 days of Christmas, 12 months of the year and zodiac signs, 12 labours of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel & many more but the number 13 has a long long history of negative superstitious attachments.
Historians traced the possible origin to the ancient code of Hammurabi, one of the earliest and most complete legal codes which was proclaimed by the Babylonian King, Hammurabi. The code of Hammurabi are a collection of 282 rules established for standardized commercial interactions, punishments and fines to meet the set requirements for justice in that ancient society. It is reported that the number 13 was omitted from the list of legal rules (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14...) which was most likely an error from the cleric but superstitious people took this as a proof to solidify their belief of negative things associated with the number 13.
Why has this Belief become so popular?
According to the story of the last supper in the Bible, 13 guests attended the Last Supper which held on Maundy Thursday, the 13 guests includes Jesus and his 12 disciples and one of which betrayed him. The seating arrangement at the last supper is believed to have propagated the Christian superstition that having 13 guests at a dinning table was a bad omen & infact, it was courting death because this particular supper ending in the death of Jesus.
Has Anyone Tried to Demystify this Superstition?
Yes, infact a man from New York named Captain William Fowler wanted to remove the stigma around having 13 guests at a dinning table so he created the an exclusive society and called it the 13th Club. The society dined on the 13th day of the month, at room 13 at the Knickerbocker Cottage, a popular cottage owned by Fowler himself. The 13 guests will be seated together and served a 13 course meal with members passing beneath a ladder and a banner that reads “Morituri te Salutamus,” Latin for “Those of us who are about to die salute you.”. It is recorded that 4 different Presidents of the United States joined this 13th Club at one point in time or another.
What bad things have happened on Friday the 13th?
- Friday the 13th, German bombing of the Buckingham Palace in September 1940.
- Friday the 13th, A cyclone killed more that 300,000 people in Bangladesh in November 1970.
- Friday the 13th, the death of Tupac Shakur in September 1996.
- Friday the 13th, the disappearance of the Chilean Airforce Plane in October 1972.
- Friday the 13th, the crash of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the coast of Italy, which killed 30 people in January 2012.
These are all most likely coincidences that could have happened on any other day, we should all just go about living our lives and not harming people or constituting nuisances in our various societies.
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