Friday, March 13, 2009

What's the story behind Friday the 13th?

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted
But once on a Friday ('tis ever they say),
A day when misfortune is aptest to fall.
Saxe: Good Dog of Bretté, stanza 3
Sir Winston Churchill, it's true, said, "Friday is my lucky day. I was born, christened, married, and knighted on that day; and all my best accidents have befallen me on a Friday".

Scots might prefer Friday for marriage, and Scandinavians might tend to see Friday as lucky, but in the traditions of most European countries, Friday is the unlucky day. When Friday falls on the 13th of the month, as is well known (any month that begins on Sunday will have a Friday the 13th), the day is said to be especially unlucky and articles like these appear all over the Net and in the media, particularly if not much news is about.

The number 13 has long been considered by superstitious Westerners to be unlucky. Even today, many towns and suburbs don’t have 13 as a street number, or 13th Street, and most hotels do not have rooms with 13 on the door. Many tall buildings do not have a 13th storey, with the elevator going straight from Floor 12 to 14.

There are numerous origins given for the persistent superstition that in the West, Friday the 13th is an unlucky day. The most likely of these is that Jesus Christ was killed on a Friday (Good Friday), and that Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed him, was the thirteenth person of Jesus and the 12 apostles.

Just as tridecaphobia (or triskaidekaphobia) is purportedly the official name for the morbid fear of the number thirteen, so various other fanciful terms are given by different commentators for the phobia associated with Friday the 13th, including paraskavedekatriaphobia (or paraskevidekatriaphobia) and friggatriskaidekaphobia, though one suspects these were invented by journalists on slow news days.

In Australia, where people are not too bright and will bet on two flies crawling up a wall, the New South Wales State Lotteries report that Friday the 13th is always one of their biggest days, with turnover about 50 per cent up. Eric W Weisstein, by the way, shows that Friday is slightly more likely than any of the days of the week to fall on the 13th ...
More at Wilson's Almanac

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