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Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th, also known as Friday 13 or Friday the thirteenth, has been considered as a day of bad luck in various countries for many years. However, contrary to popular belief that Friday 13 is an unlucky day, it is actually regarded as a lucky day by some people and in some cultures.

friday 13
Black cats are often associated with Friday the 13th. timeanddate.com

The number of times Friday 13 occurs in the Gregorian calendar varies each year, from once a year to three times a year. Friday 13 occurs only once in 2010 – August 13.

What do people do?

Many parties, some with themes similar to Halloween, are celebrated on Friday 13 around the world. Some charities and fundraising organizations use Friday 13 to hold functions and events to help raise funds for their causes. Other events may include wine tasting nights, art exhibitions, music evenings and dance nights.

Friday 13 is a big celebration at Port Dover in Ontario, Canada. It is a day for motorcyclists to gather and it happens every Friday 13. The event attracts large crowds who gather at the town each year and is supported by PD13, a nonprofit organization that coordinates Friday the 13th events in Port Dover.

For those born on Friday 13, it is their lucky day according to myth. Some people win large amounts of money through the lottery or buy lucky lottery tickets on Friday 13. According to CNN.com, one British couple bought their winning ticket on Friday 13 shortly after a mirror at their home fell off the living room wall and smashed. The lucky couple won $17 million.

Public life

Friday 13, as an event, is not a public holiday and public life is not affected.

Background

The fear of Friday the 13th, also known as paraskevidekatriaphobia, does not derive from scientific explanation. It stems from mythology, superstition, old wives’ tales and stories of tragedy that are connected to this day. It is unclear as to where superstitions surrounding the day originated from. Some say that the concept of Friday 13 being an unlucky day is linked with events that occurred in the Christian Bible, and they interpret that these events occurred on a Friday. Examples include the great flood during the time of Noah, the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel, the day Eve tempted Adam with the apple, and the day Jesus Christ died.

The superstition surrounding Friday 13 could also be linked to Norse mythology. According to legend, 12 gods were at a banquet at Valhalla when Loki, the god of mischief who was not invited, turned up, bringing the total number of guests to 13. He was responsible for the chaos that led to the death of one of the gods so all the gods grieved. The name Friday was also derived from a Norse deity, known either as Frigg or Freya, who appeared before a group of 12 witches and gave one of them her cats, which comprised 13 in the group after that.

The events that occurred on October 13, 1307, which was on a Friday according to the Gregorian calendar (although the Gregorian calendar was not introduced until 1582) is also said to be linked to the Friday 13 superstition. It was a day when officers of King Philip IV of France arrested masses of Templar knights for heresy, blasphemy and other activities. It is believed that hundreds of Templars were tortured or executed by burning at the stake despite popular belief that none of the charges were proven.

The fear of Friday 13 continues in many places around the world. According to Dr Donald Dossey, author and founder of the Stress Management Center/Phobia Institute, up to 21 million Americans fear Friday the 13th. He also said much money would be lost in business because people refused to shop, travel or take risks on this day. Moreover, symptoms of this fear range from mild anxiety and a nagging sense of doom to full-blown panic attacks. Friday 13 in August is considered unluckier than any other Friday 13 in Brazil, especially as agosto (so spelt) rhymes with desgosto (sorrow).

It is easy to blame Friday 13 for unfortunate events but this day was not always believed to be unlucky in history and in some cultures. The ancient Egyptians thought the number 13 was lucky because they believed that the 13th stage of life was related to the afterlife. After the decline of the ancient Egyptian civilization the number 13 was still associated with death but in a fearful manner. However, Friday is seen as the holiest day of the week in the Islamic world. It is set aside for communal worship where Muslims attend the Mosque. For people living in countries of the Arabian Peninsula, as well as Iraq, Friday is regarded as a day of rest.

Symbols

Some people believe that the number 13 and black cats, which are associated with Friday 13, are symbols of femininity. Friday the 13th has been commercialized by Hollywood movies such as American cult horror film “Friday the 13th” and its sequels. An image of a hockey mask is often associated with the film. The movie was renamed to Tuesday the 13th ("Martes 13") in many Spanish speaking countries because the day of bad luck falls on Tuesday 13 instead of Friday 13, although some countries retain the original title in Spanish ("Viernes 13").

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