Friday is March 13, and as any suffering paraskevidekatriaphobic (type that three times fast!) will tell you, it’s a day to be feared.
Of course, the actual reasons how this event — a conjunction of an unlucky number and the unluckiest day of the week — came to be so dreaded have been shrouded by the mists of time. The classic horror film Friday the 13th — and its never-ending sequels and re-imaginings — haven’t helped matters, either.
[Quick sidenote: Friday the 13th Part 2 was actually filmed in multiple locations around Litchfield County, including New Preston and Kent.]
As you all well know, a lot of people think that the number 13 is cursed — many buildings don’t have a 13th floor, some cities don’t have a 13th Avenue, 13 witches make up a coven, and more than a few serial killers have 13 letters in their names: Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo (The Boston Strangler). A Norse legend has it that 12 gods had been invited to a banquet and when Loki, the evil one, showed up, making 13 and creating havoc. Jesus and his 12 disciples also made for an unlucky 13 dinner guests at the Last Supper. And of course, the ill-fated 13th tribe of Kobol apparently were cylon skinjobs who were obliterated in a nuclear holocaust, as any self-respecting Battlestar Galactica geek will tell you!
Backing up to Jesus, he was crucified on a Friday, which is one of the reasons why “Friday’s child is full of woe.” Friday was also the witches sabbath according to another Norse legend, as well as the day that Eve tempted Adam with the apple and when God started the rain for the Great Flood. In the Middle Ages, it was known as execution day, and it was on a Friday (the 13th, in 1307) when the Knights Templar were destroyed. We’ve also had our share of Black Fridays in the stock market.
Historians claim that the tradition of Friday the 13th being a cursed day can only be traced back to the late 19th century, and the hype around it appears to be more of a modern invention. There is no written record of it ever having been popularly considered evil or unfortunate until the early 2oth century, and that may have only occurred after the publication of a now-forgotten novel in 1907 by Thomas Lawson entitled Friday the 13th. The story concerned shady finances and the stock market, not anything otherwordly nefarious, but the book gained enough notice to bring the phrase into cultural mainstream, where it has steadily grown in mythic stature. And like any urban legend, people just continue to propagate it rather than find out the truth.
So get out that rabbit’s foot, don’t step on any cracks and take extra caution if you feel you must, but as with many other things, Friday the 13th seems to be a case of nothing to fear but fear itself.