Friday the 13th

The number 13 has long been considered unlucky but its combination with Friday in a double-whammy of doom is a relatively new idea. In 1869, the English journalist and suthor Henry Sutherland Edwards (1828-1906) remarked in a biography of Rossini that he had the misfortune to die, not only on the 13th, but on a Friday, too. Friday the 13th subsequently made its way into our culture as a day on which bad things happen.

Each year there is at least one and up to three such opportunities to exercise our superstitions. On the day itself, most people give a moment’s thought to its connotations but carry on with their normal routine. However, very few of them would arrange, for example, a wedding on that date.

Friday has been known as the Witches’ Sabbath in centuries past and as Hangman’s Day, possibly explaining what seems today to be a puzzling association with bad luck, since most people now look forward to it as the start of the weekend. The number 13 is said to be viewed suspiciously because it comes after 12, a favoured number underpinning our traditional system of measurements. Furthermore, the 13th guest at the Last Supper was Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus.

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