Since You Asked: Beware the fear of Friday the 13th

Friday, July 13th, is coming up soon. Just what is the significance of Friday the 13th? Love the column!

— Millie W., Central Point

Well, it's the day when the triskaidekaphobes of Since You Asked's dank, medieval manse cower in their cubicles in abject fear. They shan't emerge until 12:01 a.m. Saturday the 14th, which, as we all know, is 74 percent luckier than Friday the 13th.

Donald Dossey, a folklore historian and author of "Holiday Folklore, Phobias and Fun," told National Geographic that both Friday and the number 13 have separate, age-old phobias attached to them. You think people are superstitious these days? Imagine people of long ago trying to interpret their world without the truth of science and rational thought. (Oh wait, that was yesterday in the supermarket checkout line. The Weekly World News scares the bejeebers out of us!)

Dossey says the fear of "13" goes back to a Norse myth about a celebration in Valhalla with 12 gods. Who decides to crash the shindig but that jerk, Loki. Loki being Loki, he arranges for Hoder, the blind god of darkness, to shoot a mistletoe-tipped arrow into the god of joy and gladness — Balder the Beautiful. (Wasn't that the name of a really bad soap opera?) Balder dies, the Earth goes dark. Everybody's sad. Boom, the number 13 is ruined for eternity. Nice work, Loki.

Oh, and Judas was the 13th guest at the Last Supper. Coincidence?

Cain is reported to have slain Abel on Friday the 13th (though despite repeated Freedom Of Information Act requests, we can't get a copy of the police report to confirm this). Jesus was crucified on a Friday, and some biblical scholars claim Eve offered the fruit of knowledge to Adam on a Friday. That dang apple was mellow and pithy!

National Geographic also quoted a mathematics expert who points out that numerologists (mystics who color by numbers) see 12 as a "complete" number. There are 12 months, 12 zodiac signs, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 apostles, 12 tribes of Israel. Add one more and it's just so untidy as to make the weak of reason quake in their ids.

Besides, our astrologer said it was an unlucky day! At $5.99 a minute, she must be right. Right?

Oh, and thanks for loving the column. We love you, too, Millie!

Share This Story