Dan Brown,  Davinci Code,  Friday the 13th,  superstitions,  the Knights Templar,  The Last Supper

The Number 13

Have you ever wondered where the fear of the number 13 came from? I mean, some people consider 13 to be unlucky to the extent that they refuse to stay in room 13 in a hotel, the 13th floor in buildings are omitted, and there are those who would not get out of bed on Friday, the 13th.

What is it about a number that has people in such a knot? The term for the fear of the number 13 is trikaidekaphobia. Bad association linked to the number 13 in history are worth looking at.

  • The Mercedes-Benz carrying Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed on the night of 31st August 1997, had hit the 13th pillar of Pont de l’Alma at a speed of 105 km/h, killing both the Princess of Wales and her companion.
  • ‘Saddam Hussein’ contain 13 letters (S,A,D,D,A,M,H,U,S,S,E,I,N) and was captured on 13 th December, 2003.  
  • Space Shuttle Columbia disaster occurred on the 113th flight of the shuttle. 
  • Thirteen is significant to Christians because it is the number of people who were present at the Last Supper (Jesus and his 12 apostles). Judas, the apostle w­ho betrayed Jesus, was the 13th member of the party to arrive.
  • The bad luck associated with the number 13 might be linked to the ancient Norse culture. In Norse mythology, the hero Balder was killed at a banquet by the mischievous god Loki, who crashed the party of twelve, bringing the group to 13. This story, as well as the story of the Last Supper, led to one of the most entrenched 13-related beliefs: never have a meal in a group of 13, or one will die within the year. 
  • Primitive man had only his 10 fingers and two feet, so he couldn’t count higher than 12. 13 and beyond was a mystery to prehistoric men. The unknown was to be feared.

    (Didn’t it occur to them to use their toes as well? If for no other reason but to make them less fearful.) 

Throughout history, Fridays seemed to have had a bad rep.

  • In the Garden of Eden Eve tempted Adam with forbidden fruit on a Friday and they were thrown out of paradise. 
  • The Great Flood is said to have started on a Friday and, 
  • the builders of the Tower of Babel were struck dumb on a Friday.
  • Christ was crucified on a Friday
  • In pagan Rome, Friday was execution day (later Hangman’s Day in Britain)
  • but in other pre-Christian cultures Friday was the sabbath, a day of worship and became known in the Middle Ages as the “Witches’ Sabbath”.

Tradition warns against changing your bed on Friday; it will bring bad dreams. Also, if you cut your nails on Friday, you will have reason to cry. And if you start a trip on Friday, or you will encounter misfortune. Friday was not the day to start anything, because you would only reap bad luck.

Now combine the two into the fear of Friday the 13th, and many would expect a double whammy of bad luck.

Where did the superstition around Friday the 13th come from? It’s just a number that is only divisible by itself, and an ordinary day at the end of the week. It is an irrational phobia for which there is no real explanation. The term for the fear of Friday the 13th is friggatriskaidekaphobia, Frigg being the Norse goddess whom Friday is named after.

As with most superstitions, people fear Friday the 13th for its own sake, without any need for background information.The superstition does have deep, compelling roots, however, and the origins help explain why the belief is so widespread today.

One theory, as posed by Dan Brown in his novel The Da Vinci Code, resulted from a historic event 700 odd years ago. The Knights Templar, the order of “warrior monks” during the time of the Christian Crusades to combat Islam, had grown so powerful that kings and popes saw then as a political threat, so much so that the Templars were massacred on Friday, October 13, 1307 by the French king.

On that note, I would like to ask a question of those who are superstitious about Friday the 13th, could you name one think bad that has ever happened to you an that much maligned of days?

Leave a Reply