I was doing my dishes this morning when my spice rack fell off the wall without warning. I hadn’t touched it in about a day and a half, so imagine my surprise when the whole thing hit floor with a cacaphonous crash, sending the terrified cat flying out of the room and making me jump. Computer glitches here in my apartment in Burlington and at NCPR in Canton made this morning’s broadcast a little dicey. Is it the weird weather? Happenstance? Or, perhaps, Friday the 13th?
After today’s mishaps I began to wonder how Friday the 13th came to be considered such an unlucky date. The Internet has a lot of explanations (and a lot of warnings), but my favorite came from a National Geographic article a few years ago. Here, writer John Roach asks Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute and author of Holiday Folklore, Phobias and Fun, how the date acquired its dreaded stigma. Here’s what the article says:
Dossey traces the fear of 13 to a Norse myth about 12 gods having a dinner party at Valhalla, their heaven. In walked the uninvited 13th guest, the mischievous Loki. Once there, Loki arranged for Hoder, the blind god of darkness, to shoot Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow.
“Balder died and the whole Earth got dark. The whole Earth mourned. It was a bad, unlucky day,” said Dossey. From that moment on, the number 13 has been considered ominous and foreboding.
As for Friday–well, the article attributes the day’s misfortune to the fact that number of catastrophes in the bible took place at the end of the work week.
[Friday] is well known among Christians as the day Jesus was crucified. Some biblical scholars believe Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit on Friday. Perhaps most significant is a belief that Abel was slain by Cain on Friday the 13th.
Of course, it’s all superstition. There’s no proof that Friday the 13th is terribly unlucky. Readers, have your days so far progressed without incident? Do you believe that Friday the 13th is unlucky? After the whole spice rack incident, I’m not sure. And I’m boarding a plane in a few hours. Wish me luck!