What are the origins of the Friday the 13th superstition?
No one knows.
More? I suppose it is a blog post. Okay, I’ll think of something…
The Knights Templar
“Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam” (Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy Name be the Glory)
Around 1118 or 1119, nine knights offered their services to the King of Jerusalem. They patrolled the pilgrim route to help and protect travellers. At the height over their power, the Knights Templar (or Knights of the Temple) consisted of around 20,000 members, spread around every large town in the Holy Land.
Though the members took vows of poverty, the organisation itself received donations of various kinds. Because of their size and military strength, the Templars were used almost like a bank by anyone from pilgrims to Kings. And that was a problem.
In 1291, the last Crusader stronghold in the Holy Land, Acre, fell to the muslims, and the Templars were no longer needed. Just over a decade later, fearing their power and desiring their wealth, the King Philip IV of France used probably-false rumours of heresy and blasphemy to persuad the pope (Clement V) to order the arrest of all Templars.
In the dawn of October Friday 13, 1307, well organised, mass raids were carried out. The Templars were charged with everything from heresy and blasphemy to homosexual practices. A great many were tortured into false confessions. Despite this, none of the charges were every proven, and outside of France, the Templars were even found innocent. Over a hundred died under torture, or were executed.
Jacques de Molay, last Grand Master of the Temple Knights, was burned at the stake in 1314.
The mass arrest, murder, torture, execution, etc, of the Knights Templar is perhaps the most popular origin of the Friday the 13th superstition. The problem is that there is little to no documentation of this superstition before the 19th century, so it doesn’t seem that likely that it stems from the Templars.
13 and Friday
The number 13 itself is considered unlucky. First, there is Norse mythology. 12 gods gathered in Valhalla for a great feast/party thing. But a 13th, uninvited, unwelcome guest arrived: Loki, the trickster god. Loki tricked Hoder – the god of darkness – into shooting his brother, the god of joy and gladness – Baldr (or Balder, or Baldur) – with a dart tipped with the only substance in existence that could hurt him: mistletoe. Baldr’s death plunged the world into darkness.
Next, we have the Last Supper. The 13th guest was Judas, who apparently betrayed Jesus. It was also a Friday, supposedly, that Jesus was crucified.
Hotels don’t have 13th floors, due to the superstition being so widespread.
It was, it seems, a Friday that Eve tempted Adam with the apple.
Friday is considered an unlucky day all over the world.
So, in conclusion, perhaps it is simply the fact that the unlucky day, Friday, combined with the unlucky number 13 results in a particularly unlucky Friday the 13th.