Scared of Black Friday? If you are, you might suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia – fear of Friday the 13th. In Western superstition, when the 13th day of the month falls on a Friday in the Gregorian calendar, it is considered the unluckiest day of the year. The bad news? Well… it is today. The good news? Friday the 13th is a bad day only in a few countries.
What’s wrong with Friday the 13th?
In the Christian Bible apostle Judas Iscariot – who betrayed Jesus – was the 13th guest at the Last Supper, on the 13th of Nisan Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday. It is also true that most of the unlucky events in the Bible happened on a Friday, including the great flood at Noah’s time, Eve tempting Adam with the forbidden fruit and Jesus’s death. Yet, while there is evidence of both Friday and the number 13 being considered unlucky, there is no record of the two items being referred to as especially unlucky in conjunction. This fear of Black Friday started only in the 19th century.
Related European superstitions
In Italy – home of the Roman church – 13 is considered to be a lucky number. Here, Friday the 17th (venerdì 17) is a day of bad luck, instead. This is due to the writing of number 17 in Roman numerals: XVII. The digits composing the number can be shuffled to get the word VIXI, meaning “I have lived” (and thus implying death at present time). Indeed, most of the American horror movies centered on Friday the 13th are translated with Friday the 17th. Good news: when I was 5, my parents decided to move from the city to the countryside and our new house was number 17. The unlucky number brought them luck, as it was the only unsold house in the neighborhood – due to the number no one wanted – and saved them some good money when they bought it. We have lived there for a good decade that also happened to be very lucky for my dad’s business. Even today, many cities in Italy don’t have 17s as house numbers.
In Spanish-speaking countries, instead of Friday, Tuesday the 13th (martes trece) is considered a day of bad luck. And the Greeks also consider Tuesday (and especially the 13th) an unlucky day. Tuesday is considered to be dominated by the influence of Ares, the god of war. A connection can be seen in the etymology of the name in some other European languages (Mardi in French, Martes in Spanish, Martedì in Italian). In Greek, Tuesday is Triti (Τρίτη), meaning literally the third (day of the week): according to the Greek superstition, bad luck is said to “come in threes”.
Trick bad luck
According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day, making it the most feared day and date in history. Now, here’s the trick. On a Friday 13th, fly to Greece. Or pretend to be Italian. 😉