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Friday the 13th in legend and myth
Sep 05, 2013

 

We’re not superstitious are we? Of course not!  
Well, it’s a good thing, because if we were we would be unnerved to discover that the always infamous and allegedly unlucky “Friday the 13th” is imminent.  But who cares, since we’re not superstitious and we don’t even think about such foolishness, do we? Sure. Right.
The unlucky Friday falling on that unlucky number sends a chill up many a spine, but for all of us, who consider this and other superstitions to be “bunk,” it’s no big deal. Or is it?
There are a couple of interesting tidbits relating to Friday and the No. 13  that might give us pause for concern.  
Thirteen was not lucky for one Apollo spaceflight. Remember the ill-fated moon flight of Apollo 13 back in 1970? If you don’t remember it from the real-life event that we followed “live” on TV, you probably remember it from the hit movie of the same name.
The superstitious trivia that we might have forgotten about that incident was that the Apollo 13 moon flight was launched at precisely 13 minutes after the hour. Everything went well for two days as they headed for the moon, but then on April 13, the command module oxygen tank blew up. Astronauts Lovell, Haise and Swigart had to improvise a return to earth in the tiny, fragile lunar module.  Fortunately, in spite of unlucky No. 13, that space disaster ended happily with the  safe return of the astronauts.
Farther back in history, the combination of Friday and the No. 13 being unlucky is often first attributed to the fact that there were 13 people at Christ’s Last Supper — the 13th person being his betrayer, Judas — and  secondly to the fact that Christ was crucified on a Friday.
Before Christ was even born, there was another theory bad-mouthing  the No.13 that had its origin in ancient  Scandinavian mythology. According to the Norse  legend, 12 gods attended a banquet at Valhalla, the home of the god  Odin. Suddenly, a 13th visitor appeared.  This unwelcome guest was Loki, representing evil and turmoil.  In an attempt to eject the interloper, one of the 12 gods,  Balder, was killed. This negative myth about 13 spread throughout Europe and eventually reached the Christian world  where it seemed  to parallel the 13 people at the Last Supper. 
And so, silly or not, this superstition gained more and more believers until even today the 13th floor of  a  building is often marked 14,  Italians omit the No. 13  from their national lottery, hotels often delete “Room 13, many Frenchmen won’t live in a house with the address13,  airlines sometimes eliminate seating-row  13, and race car drivers avoid the No. 13  on their cars, just in case.
On a positive note, here’s a contrary theory that I recently heard about: “To be born on the thirteenth is to be lucky. One born on the thirteenth will prosper in whatever they begin on that particular day in later life.”   
Go figure.
“Triskaidekaphobia”  is the fear of the No. 13.
The fear of Friday falling on the 13th is called
“friggaphobia.” Another explanation for the fear of the two coinciding again takes us back to a Norse legends. Frigga was the Nordic goddess of almost everything. Specifically, she was the goddess of married love, clouds, sky, and housewives. Frigga was Odin’s wife and Balder’s mother. At some point, she fell out of favour, declared a witch and was banished forever to a mountaintop.  The legend says that in order to take revenge, she would gather with 11 other witches and Satan on every Friday — making 13 in all — and concoct diabolical schemes to get even with those who wronged her. 
The above provides a few theories and some assorted trivia to ponder when friggaphobia rears its ugly head this coming Friday. But, of course, we all know there’s nothing to this superstitious stuff. 
Or is there?