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Friday the 13th

Vintage Good Luck Postcard

Friday the 13th (2021)

Aug 13

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

American author and humourist Mark Twain was allegedly once invited to be the 13th guest at a dinner party. As the story goes, he went to the dinner despite a superstitious friend's warning and reported back, "It was bad luck. They only had food for 12."

Knock on wood, cross your fingers, and circle clockwise 7 times! Or defy all superstitions and friggatriskaidekaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th. The Thirteen Club of New York was a group of skeptics who defied superstitions by hosting dinner parties on Friday the 13th. At the first dinner, the 13 members performed such unlucky feats as passing under a ladder. They dined on 13 courses, the first by the light of 13 candles. The devil-may-care group tipped over salt containers on the table but were forbidden from tossing any of the spilled granules over their shoulders. According to the New York Historical Society, this small club evolved into a national organization that boasted such members Grover Cleveland and Theodore Roosevelt! 🤞

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day in Western superstition.  It is not clear how this superstition originated though modern (probably revisionist) stories claim that the superstition developed during the Middle Ages, linked with Jesus' last supper and crucifixion, in which there were 13 individuals present on the 13th of Nisan Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday.

Others link the superstition around the Friday October the 13th, in 1307. On this date, the Pope of the church in Rome, in conjunction with the King of France, carried out a secret death warrant against “the Knights Templar”. The Templars were terminated as heretics, never again to hold the power & riches that they had stewarded for so long. Their Grand Master, Jacques DeMolay, was arrested & killed on that Friday the 13th!

Historically 13 has been considered an unstable number. From the time when humans first used numbers to measure things, the number 12 has represented a common cosmic standard. There are 12 months of the year, 12 hours on the clock, 12 signs of the Zodiac, 12 Tribes of Israel, 12 Apostles, 12 Knights of the Round Table & so on. The number 13 represents disruption to the established order.


In some Spanish-speaking cultures, it is actually Tuesday on the 13th that is associated with bad luck. And in others, such as Italy, Friday the 17th (and not the 13th) is the bad luck day!


Fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia or  friggatriskaidekaphobia from the words for Friday (Freya's Day, or Frigga's Day) and "triska" for the number 13. 


Interestingly, the 13th day of the month is slightly more likely to be a Friday than any other day of the week, and in some years, this can occur three times!


Some modern "good luck" methods to mitigate a Friday the 13th, include:


  • Get out of the bed on the right side (that is, not the left side). This side is guaranteed to make your day luckier according to some superstitions. 

  • Wear your lucky underwear!

  • Get your most trusted lucky charm out. Place it in your pocket and wear it all day.

  • Eliminate house-cleaning.  Handling a broom is unlucky on this day, as is changing the sheets, flipping the mattress, or doing the laundry.


For more about how Friday the 13th has been viewed over time, click on the pictures below.  

Friday the 13th

Click the dance cribs or description below to link to a printable version of the dance!

Friday the 13th

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