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Why Is Friday the 13th Unlucky?

Black cats crossing your path. Walking under ladders. Broken mirrors. Teenagers being murdered at defunct summer camps by machete wielding, hockey mask wearing psychopaths. These are all traditionally unlucky occurrences on Friday the 13th, which is considered an unlucky day. But WHY is Friday the 13th unlucky? The unlucky origins of Friday the 13th has roots in both Norse mythology and Christian history.

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Long story short of the original Norse Myth, the gods were having a feast in Valhalla in Baldur’s honor. Baldur is Odin’s son. Twelve gods were in attendance for the feast, as well as creatures from across the nine realms. Not in attendance was trickster god Loki, aka the villain from at least two Marvel films. That’s because he showed up uninvited with intent to kill Baldur with a spear dipped in mistletoe, which is Baldur’s kryptonite. So this uninvited guest, this 13th god, shows up and kills Baldur, that’s why 13 is considered lucky amongst many early European civilizations. As a sidenote, four weekdays are named for Norse gods: Tuesday/Tyr, Wednesday/Woden or Odin, Thursday/Thor and Friday/Frigg or Freya.

The Christian historical influence bears similarities to the Norse origins, but it brings Friday into the fold. Judas Iscariot, the Apostle who betrayed Jesus, is believed to be the 13th and final person to arrive at the famous last supper. His late arrival and ultimate betrayal, coupled with Jesus’ crucifixion on a Friday, makes Friday the 13th an unlucky day in many Western cultures. As a sidenote: Jesus predicting Judas’ betrayal is a bulk of John 13.

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While Friday the 13th was ominous in many cultures for a long time, it wasn’t really as pop-culturally dominant until the 20th century. The number 13 continues to be excluded from skyscrapers and hotels, which jump from the 12th floor to the 14th floor. Some airports go Gate 11, Gate 12A, Gate 12B, Gate 14. Some airlines don’t have a 13th row on their planes.

These days? I think it’s just a fun day on the calendar. There have actually been two Friday the 13ths in 2017, one today, and one back in January. We were supposed to get the 13th Friday the 13th film today, but it’s been officially killed by Paramount. Granted, like Jason Voorhees himself, the franchise has a habit of coming back from the dead, so who even knows anymore. I’ll probably be watching a Friday the 13th marathon though. I love those movies.

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