Friday, June 13, 2008
Friday the 13th.
Like many human beliefs, the fear of Friday the 13th (known as paraskevidekatriaphobia) isn't exactly grounded in scientific logic. But the really strange thing is that most of the people who believe the day is unlucky offer no explanation at all, logical or illogical. As with most superstitions, people fear Friday the 13th for its own sake, without any need for background information.
The superstition does have deep, compelling roots, however, and the origins help explain why the belief is so widespread today.
There have been a number of events known as "Black Fridays" in history. Usually, these events are devastating.
Some historians propose that the origin of the "Black Friday" was the simultaneous arrest of hundreds of Knights Templars on October 13, 1307 (Friday), to be later tortured into "admitting" heresy.
Today, the concept of Friday the 13th has been extended through the 'black Friday' concept to incorporate anything really bad that happens on a Friday.
The fear of Friday the 13th stems from two separate fears -- the fear of the number 13 and the fear of Fridays. Both fears have deep roots in Western culture, most notably in Christian theology.
Christians have traditionally been wary of Fridays because Jesus was crucified on a Friday. Additionally, some theologians hold that Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit on a Friday, and that the Great Flood began on a Friday. In the past, many Christians would never begin any new project or trip on a Friday, fearing they would be doomed from the start.
Sailors were particularly superstitious in this regard, often refusing to ship out on a Friday. According to unverified legend (very likely untrue), the British Navy commissioned a ship in the 1800s called H.M.S. Friday, in order to quell the superstition. The navy selected the crew on a Friday, launched the ship on a Friday and even selected a man named James Friday as the ship's captain. Then, one Friday morning, the ship set off on its maiden voyage... and disappeared forever.
Ultimately, the complex folklore of Friday the 13th doesn't have much to do with people's fears today. The fear has much more to do with personal experience. People learn at a young age that Friday the 13th is supposed to be unlucky, for whatever reason, and then they look for evidence that the legend is true. The evidence isn't hard to come by, of course. If you get in a car wreck on one Friday the 13th, lose your wallet, or even spill your coffee, that day will probably stay with you. But if you think about it, bad things, big and small, happen all the time. If you're looking for bad luck on Friday the 13th, you'll probably find it.
Is Friday the 13th a particularly unlucky day? I think it could be, if you believe it is. Just as some prophecies are self-fulfilling, some beliefs are self-validating.
PS: Covenant University, Ota holds their convocation ceremony tagged (as usual) The Release of Eagles today, Friday the Thirteenth defying all myths and legends...Congrats Eagles.