Friday and Thirteen: A Brief History

Today is Friday the Thirteenth. How are you feeling? Many people fear this day. They just want to get the day over with, and they will be extra careful to avoid ladders, cracks in the sidewalk, and black cats. There is even a scientific name for fear of Friday the Thirteenth! It is technically called “Paraskevidekatriaphobia”. (I can’t pronounce it, either.) But it’s a thing, discussed among psychiatrists and medical professionals. For many, the fear is real.

But is there any truth to the rumors? Are Fridays and the number thirteen so very bad? Read on to find out some facts and fictions of this superstition…


Have you ever noticed that notorious killers have 13 letters in their names?

JACK THE RIPPER (count ’em)

CHARLES MANSON (count ’em)

JEFFREY DAHMER (you guessed it!)

Cue eerie music.

Humankind has long associated the number 13 with evil.  Some office buildings and hotels have been built without a 13th floor. Some airlines, including  Continental and Air France, do  not have a 13th row in their planes. Even Winston Churchill, the ultimate pragmatist, refused to sit in the 13th row in theaters.

But wait!  Thirteen may not be as bad as we think.

Consider the ancient Aztecs. They were pretty smart, and they  revered the number 13.   The Aztec week lasted 13 days.  They measured their year in 260 days.  It was divided into 20 thirteen day periods. The thirteen day period was called a Trecena.

The Aztecs even had a goddess of the number 13.

In Aztec mythology, the goddess Tlazolteotl ruled the 13th Trecena. She was, to be fair, a bit of a bad girl — the goddess of sin and patron saint of adulterers.  However, Tlazolteotl  was also beneficent and wise. It was her place to forgive sins of a sexual nature. In Aztec culture, she was associated with the steam bath and encouraged it as a purification ritual.

In Tarot, although 13 is the Death card, it is not necessarily to be feared, as the card represents true change and reinvention that can only come about through symbolic death.


One of the reasons 13 got its bad rap was because of the Last Supper. Jesus had 12 disciples, so including himself there were 13 people attending the infamous dinner.  Some say Judas Iscariot was the last to arrive (the 13th guest). Judas eventually betrayed Jesus with a kiss, pointing him out to the Roman soldiers as a political agitator. This, of course, resulted in the crucifixion of Jesus.

It is believed that Judas the betrayer later committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree, thus adding to the horror.

On the other hand — these events were necessary for the salvation of humankind. The Gospel of Judas speaks of these events as a Divine plan, conspired between Jesus and Judas, all necessary for the enlightenment of planet Earth. So maybe 13 turned out to be lucky in the long run…


In 19th century America, a society was created to dispel the myth of unlucky 13, once and for all!

In 1881, Captain William Fowler,  an American Civil War veteran, took it upon himself to form “The Thirteen Club”.  Fowler  had taken part in 13 major battles and had been forced to resign on August 13, 1863. On September 13, 1863 he purchased the Knickerbocker Cottage in New York. The cottage would later be used for his club dinners.

The first dinner of The  Thirteen Club took place at 8:13 P.M. on Friday, January 13th, 1882, in Room 13.  There were of course, 13 people in attendance.  All subsequent meetings took place in room 13 on Friday the 13th.

On the December 13, 1886 meeting, Robert Green Ingersoll, a member and prominent lawyer, declared:

“We have had enough mediocrity, enough policy, enough superstition, enough prejudice, enough provincialism, and the time has come for the American citizen to say: “Hereafter I will be represented by men who are worthy, not only of the great Republic, but of the Nineteenth Century.”

By 1887, the Thirteen Club was 400-strong, over time gaining five U.S. Presidents as honorary members: Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Not bad pickings!

It should also be noted that the United States came from 13 original colonies.  The 13 stripes on our flag represent these. (Count ’em!)


And what about the day itself? Is the day so intrinsically evil? According to the nursery rhyme, “Friday’s child is loving and giving…” Besides, that, most folks love Friday, as it is the beginning of the weekend.

Friday got a bad rap because of its association with evil events in the Bible. A lot of bad stuff allegedly happened on Fridays. Besides Jesus crucifixion, the Great Flood, which wiped out all humankind, except Noah and his brood, is believed to have begun on a Friday.

Also, the day the Devil tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden also supposedly took place on a Friday. This led to the fall of humankind, the banishment of Adam and Eve from paradise, and a lot of bad stuff in general.

But Friday can also be good. Even the day of the Crucifixion, for example, is known as “Good Friday” — the implication being that even great suffering will eventually lead to wisdom, enlightenment, and happiness.

The name Friday comes from the Old English work  frīġedæġ, meaning the “day of Frig”, thus associating it with the Germanic goddess Frigg, and also the Roman goddess Venus. Both are goddesses of love.

In Norse mythology, Friday is the day of Freya. She is the goddess of love, sex, beauty, fertility and gold. Freya was also quite fond of black cats. They accompanied her during her various visitation, and she often had black cats riding around with her in her magic chariot! What’s not to like?

Have a safe and happy Friday the 13th!


10 comments on “Friday and Thirteen: A Brief History

  1. I started my blog on Friday the 13th of May 2016. So far, so good! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Vicky V says:

    A goddess of the number 13 who is also a bad girl. I like her!
    Plenty of great stuff here as always. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love how much info you’ve packed into these F13 posts. I read somewhere the 13th zodiac sign was a serpent. Pretty cool stuff. Guessing they banjaxed it going to the 12mo year.

    Liked by 1 person

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