The scam of Friday 13th

Dear Friday the 13th.

You don’t scare me! I have other things to worry about, like this salt I just spilled.

Bravely yours, Ginger.


Superstitions are funny things. The fact that today is Friday the 13th has been mentioned all over the social media sites.  I even ran across this site with 5 songs about superstitions. Since Friday the 13th is going to roll around 3 times in 2012, exactly 13 weeks apart incidentally, I thought I’d find out what all the fuss is about and see if I could get to the bottom of this. So, in the effort of procrastination research, I Googled it.

I found this tidbit from this Wikipedia site:

The fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom “Friday” is named and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number thirteen), or paraskevidekatriaphobia[1][2] a concatenation of the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning “Friday”), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning “thirteen”) attached to phobía (φοβία, from phóbos, φόβος, meaning “fear”). The latter word was derived in 1911[citation needed] and first appeared in a mainstream source in 1953.[3]

What in TARNATION does all that gobblygook mean?  You don’t know either? Thank goodness.  I’ll search further then.

From this urban legends site I found these facts about the number 13 and Friday:

Legend has it: If 13 people sit down to dinner together, one will die within the year. The Turks so disliked the number 13 that it was practically expunged from their vocabulary (Brewer, 1894). Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue. Many buildings don’t have a 13th floor. If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil’s luck (Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all have 13 letters in their names). There are 13 witches in a coven.

This sounds a bit wishy-washy to me.  I even read that the fear of the number 13 may have roots reaching back as far as ancient civilization and the act of counting.  Apparently the primitive man (and surely not woman ~grin~) only had his 10 fingers and 2 feet with which to count, so 12 was the highest number. Anything beyond was unfathomable and mysterious and therefore an object of fear.  This begs the question … did he not have toes?

The fear of Friday has some interesting facts and origins.

Some say Friday’s bad reputation goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. It was on a Friday, supposedly, that Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit. Adam bit, as we all learned in Sunday School, and they were both ejected from Paradise. Tradition also holds that the Great Flood began on a Friday; God tongue-tied the builders of the Tower of Babel on a Friday; the Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday; and, of course, Friday was the day of the week on which Christ was crucified. It is therefore a day of penance for Christians.

If that is enough proof for you that Friday is Bad, you might want to take notes on the following warnings.

Legend has it: Never change your bed on Friday; it will bring bad dreams. If you cut your nails on Friday, you cut them for sorrow. Don’t start a trip on Friday or you will encounter misfortune. Ships that set sail on a Friday will have bad luck, as in the tale of H.M.S. Friday. One hundred years ago, the British government sought to quell the longstanding superstition among seamen that setting sail on Fridays was unlucky. A special ship was commissioned and given the name “H.M.S. Friday.” They laid her keel on a Friday, launched her on a Friday, selected her crew on a Friday, and hired a man named Jim Friday to be her captain. To top it off, H.M.S. Friday embarked on her maiden voyage on a Friday — and was never seen or heard from again.

Interestingly enough, I read that in Spanish-speaking countries, instead of Friday, Tuesday the 13th (martes trece) is considered a day of bad luck. The Greeks also consider Tuesday (and especially the 13th) to be an unlucky day. Tuesday is considered to be dominated by the influence of Ares (Mars), the God of war.

Anyone else feel all of this is a bit of a stretch? While I do find all of this interesting, I’m still not afraid of Friday the 13th.  Why? Because I don’t like to let something I can’t control have power over me.  Every week, Friday is going to roll around.  Every month, we’re going to have a 13th day.  In 2012, we are apparently going to have 3 times where these two things collide and send legions into fear and apoplexy. No, I’d rather be ornery and stubborn and decide that Friday the 13th is indeed lucky and fun.  Or maybe it’s just another day like Monday the 3rd or Thursday the 25th.

In the effort of full disclosure, I do happen to be a superstition person, just not about Friday the 13th.

My superstitions:

–I’m not sure about the whole spilling salt thing and the devil over your shoulder, but you never know, so I ere on the side of caution. I don’t even have to spill the salt, I just throw a salt over my left shoulder for good measure. Guaranteed to get in the eye of the devil should he be there and give me more to vacuum off my kitchen floor besides dog hair.

–I never open an umbrella inside. Apparently it curses the whole house. This sounds overly dramatic but I’m not taking any chances.

–Never walk under a ladder. I didn’t know why this was bad so a quick Google search shows that apparently the triangle the ladder forms represents the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) and to walk under it shows a disbelief in the Holy Trinity and aligns you with Satan.  Well, that can’t be good at all! I think I’ll continue to avoid these ladder bridges. At the very least, should the ladder break at an inopportune moment, I might get taken down and how embarrassing!

–Breaking a mirror brings seven years bad luck. Apparently it represents you breaking your soul, or that your soul will be trapped inside the broken mirror pieces. That sounds quite ominous.  But apparently if you happen to break a mirror, you can counteract the curse by grinding the pieces to dust, obliterating any reflection and burying it. Well, that will give you a good workout, so all is not lost and you might even get your soul back.

–Knocking on wood when you say something that might temp fate is said to ward off evil spirits.  Now that just makes good sense!   🙂

What you about all?  Are you superstitious?  Tell me about them.


About Ginger Calem

I never met a notebook I didn't want to buy. Pens speak to me. Sticky notes are dear to my heart. Some of my best friends are those clambering in my head trying to get onto the page. And when they have their stories told, and I release them to the world, I hope they'll be your friends too.

Posted on January 13, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 39 Comments.

  1. This is so funny, the radio show I listen to this morning made one of their guys walk under a ladder, break a mirror and then open an umbrella in the studio. I’ll let you know if he’s alive tomorrow…lol. I don’t think I have any beliefs like that *thinking* um, I think it’s bad karma to kill bugs. Does that count?

    • You’ll need to update me tomorrow. I simple must know if that guy made it out alive and with his soul intact. The bug thing, I see your point. Could be your 5-times great-aunt-Bertha who’s come back as a dung-beetle. (ok being silly, sorry) I don’t like to kill bugs, as a rule. But if it’s between me and the spider, well, I’m bigger. And roaches aren’t bugs, they are vile, skittering, smudges on society. They must die.

  2. Wow – 3 Friday the 13ths all 13 weeks apart? Weirdness. Fun post!

  3. There have been some tennis seasons when I wore only one color rubber band. That won’t happen this year since I cut off all my hair!
    Very fun!

    • Oh Susie, I do this too, or have. There was a ski season where I had to wear this purple earring stud. I was sure if I took it out, I’d fall during the show. And had to twist my ski handle a certain number of times before every act. Every time I wore blue for a certain act, I’d fall, so I refused that color prom dress. You know, I think I’m a nut case. Thanks for reminding me. hahaha

  4. Please understand, I am not a mystery or thriller writer and yet, my imagination took off on the legend of sitting 13 people down at the table on Friday the 13th, and one of them will die. I wonder if the hostess gets to pick which one goes? LOL!

    Fun post, Ginger. Thanks!

  5. I’m not scared of Friday the 13th but pay more attention to my surroundings–and to my driving every time the date rolls around. I probably proofread more carefully, too. In short, Friday the 13th is good for me. Ginger, I didn’t know where the “don’t walk under a ladder” warning came from, but the reason you found is fascinating and I now vow to walk around ladders.

    • I didn’t know about most of these superstitions so I’m glad I googled today. Very interesting. I love learning new things and just like you, no way I’m going under any ladders!

  6. I want Sheila to write that story! 🙂 Fun post Ginger. I’m not ascared (LOL – yes, I know that’s not a word) of Friday the 13th, or any combination of the number 13. It’s silly. I don’t walk under ladders and would prefer no one break any mirrors in my house. Unfortunately my kids have opened the umbrellas in our home. That would explain a lot. Sigh..

  7. Wow, friggatriskaidekaphobia. Who comes up with this stuff? Very entertaining, Ginger!

  8. Ok I counted, and my legal name has 13 letters, but not counting my middle name. So I guess that means everyone is safe. LOL
    I have a tendency to say “God forbid” if someone mentions something scary, and that seems a bit on the superstitious side when I think about it.
    Have a great weekend!

  9. Trish Loye Elliott

    Interesting post! I love finding out about where superstitions come from. I had thought that Friday the 13th was considered unlucky because that was the day (I think about 700 yrs ago) when the Catholic Church turned against the Knights Templar. They had them killed or arrested and then burned for heresy. Nasty stuff whether that’s where our dislike of 13 comes from or not. Me… I actually like the number 13. 🙂

    • Hi Trish. I read that in my Googling. It is mentioned in Dan Brown’s Di Vinci Code. I bet it’s all part of the ongoing superstition. I also like 13. Actually, I’m fond of odd numbers in generally, especially 3. Thanks for commenting.

  10. Hey, this will be a great year for modern witches. Freya’s Day 13 (special day), cones around three (Sacred number) times. Awesome stuff. 🙂

  11. I’m a fan of Friday the 13th… People walk around believing in mystical magic (if negatively pointed magic ;)) and every great thing that happens seems extra lucky. It also seems like a great point of study, which you’ve done well here. Thanks for the fun, informative post!

  12. I was in a Mexican restaurant once and set my purse on the floor, the waitress rushed over and picked it up saying if you set your purse on the floor you lose money- I haven’t been able to set my purse on the floor since.

    • I have never heard that! Interesting! I never put my purse on the floor because I’m I always feel the floor is filthy. Glad to know I accidentally saved myself from losing what few pennies I have. 🙂

  13. I have always hated Friday the 13th, because of the movies. I assumed it was a day of mass murder or something. I’ve never actually seen the movies because I don’t do horror, but the idea that they exist is enough to creep me out. I have certain superstitions, too, but they all make sense. Like throwing salt, breaking a glass, and not opening umbrellas inside. I probably shouldn’t even be typing these. I’m gonna go put on my evil eye bracelet just in case.

    • Haha, Emma! Too funny. I might need to get an evil eye bracelet. In the mean time, I’ll just use my angry-mom-snake-eye-look. It seems to work on the kids most of the time. 😉

  14. I so rarely know what day it is – I’ll be darned if I notice that the date happened to be the 13th and the day happens to be a Friday.

    I really have no superstitions…. But I find it inexplicable why I won’t walk under a ladder. 🙂

  15. I will never walk under a ladder either! I’ve been known to cross streets to avoid it. But here’s where I heard that superstition comes from: In the days before the gallows was invented, they used to hang people from the rung of a ladder. It’s believed that the triangle created by the ladder still contains the spirits of the people who were hung that way. And why on earth would you want to walk through THAT?!

    • Oooh, I didn’t read that explanation yesterday. Very cool. Makes me think on the veiled archway in Order of the Phoenix. I’m thinking walking under a ladder is a very bad idea, regardless.

  16. A super cool subject and a very interesting post, Ginger!
    I’ve used to be superstitious but, over the years, I left all the believes in a bad luck behind. Friday the 13th is the same as any other day for me but I respect others’ fears and conventions 🙂

  17. Well, I totally forgot today was Friday the 13th until I read it on FB about three minutes ago. I guess I have good luck on the 13th!

    That was fun to learn about the different legends associated with the date and yes, I did count out all of our names ~ my husband has 13 letters, but if he has the Devil’s luck, then it’s a very nice Devil because my man has it going on!

    I’m not superstitious, but I won’t discount that the universe is a strange and wonderful place; therefore I’m not going to mess with it.

    • “A very nice devil…” Cute!! I just counted my family’s names and we don’t have a 13. Whew! But I think the kids can show a devilish nature at time anyway. 🙂 (but don’t we all?) I love what you said about our universe being a strange and wonderful place … totally agree and like you, I’m not going to mess with it either. Thanks for commenting.

  18. Who knew there was so much behind the 13th? I am so not superstitious, I didn’t give it any thought other than the radio folks were chatting about it.

  19. I didn’t even notice it was Friday the 13th until I saw your post. I’m not all at superstitious in the way that you’re mentioning, but I think my tendency toward hypochondria might be very similar to superstitions in a way. Whenever I think I have something, if I tell my husband about it and he tells me I don’t have a blood clot, brain tumor, cancer, heart attack, or whatever I’m currently convinced I might have, I suddenly feel better.

    • Well, you bring up the concept of positive thought and strong convictions. I totally believe in this. I have always believed in willing certain things into happening or being true as well as NOT-happening. Obviously doesn’t always work but I firmly believe in a mind’s will and the power it can have in situations!

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