TGIF – Or is it?
by: Ren Walt
Break out the machetes and goalie masks and, whatever you do, don’t say “be right back” this Friday, because its Friday’s the 13th. Whether you are easily spooked or not you might be wondering what all the buzz surrounding the inauspicious date is about, and whether it has any historical significance at all, that is, beyond Camp Crystal Lake.
It turns out it does, but the idea of Friday the 13th being a day of bad luck is pretty recent, only dating back to the 1800s as far as records show. Folklore offers up a couple of different origins to pick from. There is mention in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times of a US senator introducing 13 public building bills on a Friday the 13th in 1908, bills that were totally jinxed and doomed. Wikipedia has an earlier recorded reference to the fated date in an 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini, an Italian composer, where there is mention of Friday the 13th being unlucky but no explanation given for the dates malevolence. Perhaps more interesting is the fact that in both references it seems that the curse of Friday the 13th had already been established, and goes back further than existing documentation. Maybe there is more to be learned buried somewhere in the Book of the Dead.
Odds are the notion of the luckless 13th comes as a result of the merging of two earlier superstitions: that Friday is bad luck, and that the number thirteen is bad luck. The number thirteen has been considered unlucky since, like, the last supper. Historically, thirteen was thought to mess with what was considered the completeness of the number twelve, sort of a third wheel, but for the twelve Apostles, or the twelve gods of Olympus, or the twelve hours in a day.
And while Friday has always been a good day to get fired from a job, or get trampled by a horde of frenzied bargain hunters at Walmart, the superstition goes back to a time before merciless HR directors and Black Friday shopping. Fridays are linked with misfortune in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in the late 14th century (“And on a Friday fell all this mischance”). There are a number of bad associations with Friday in the Christian Bible. Christ was crucified on a Friday, Eve gave Adam the apple on a Friday, the Great Flood was a Friday. I am almost certain that it was a Friday when Gilligan and the fearless crew of The Minnow set sail on their little trip to that island.
Those of you who are terrified of Friday the 13th — a.k.a. those of you who have paraskevidekatriaphobia (only twelve syllables so don’t panic) — you may want to stay home this Friday. For the rest of you, if you are not into the tattooed mayhem and depravity of the Friday the 13th festivities in Port Dover you can try your luck at local happenings of Shake-n-Skate or a KW Symphony concert. Hopefully whatever your excursion, it’s not a cursed one.