What You Didn’t Know About Friday the 13th But Were Too Afraid to Ask
Today’s the day when two of our most powerful superstitions converge on one date—it is Friday the 13th and a full moon. While it might be tempting to just stay in bed all day to avoid the doom that awaits us on Friday the 13th, but your boss may frown upon that. Instead, let’s find out where our superstitions about Friday the 13th and the full moon originated. Knowledge is power…and we just may find that we have nothing to fear.
Today’s Friday the 13th full moon is rather uncommon. The last time a full moon fell on a Friday the 13th was, ironically, 13 years ago. On this day, two groups of people with irrational fears may commiserate together. The fear of Friday the 13th is called triskaidekaphobia and the fear of full moon is known as selenophobia.
12 Is Greater Than 13
The number 12, in Western culture, pops up quite a bit. It seemed to be a number that signified completeness, harmony, and balance. There are 12 months in the year, 12 Zodiac signs, 12 Tribes of Israel, 12 apostles, 12 days of Christmas, 12 gods in the mythical pantheon, and 12 labors of Hercules. For ancient cultures, 12 was a natural number. Adding one more to make the number 13 was unnatural and unbalanced. 13 was a number that caused some anxiety because it did not fit with the neatly divisible even dozen.
13 Guests at the Last Supper
One of the theories about the fear of 13 stems from the Last Supper. There were 13 guests seated at the table for the Last Supper, Jesus and his 12 disciples. Of course, we know that having 13 people dining together turned out to be unlucky, as Jesus was arrested that night and crucified the next day. Many Christians point to the Last Supper as the basis for their suspicion of the number 13. In fact, to this day, many people avoid seating a table for 13 people because it is a bad omen.
13 Plus Friday Equals Bad Stuff
As if the number 13 wasn’t bad enough, along comes Friday the 13th. In the Bible, some pretty negative stuff happened on Fridays. We know that Jesus was crucified on the cross on a Friday, but there is more. It was on a Friday that Cain killed his brother, Abel, and that Eve gave Adam that apple to snack on.
Friday the 13th and the Knights Templar
In the 12th century, the Knights Templar became one of the most powerful religious and military organizations in Europe. They were so wealthy, in fact, that the king of France, Philip IV, borrow a huge chunk of change from them. When he couldn’t pay it back, he ordered that all the Templars be rounded up and burned at the stake. The date of this mass execution? Friday, October 13, 1307.
We know that the moon exerts its influence here on earth--just watch the tide roll in and out. For centuries, however, people thought that a full moon cast magical powers over humans, too. All sorts of odd behavior was attributed to the full moon, from sleepwalking and violent outburst, to crime sprees, and suicides. Up until the middle of the 20th century, the full moon was blamed for inducing strange reactions in people. This phenomenon was even given a name—lunacy—after Luna, the Roman goddess of the moon. Some of our earliest philosophers, such as Aristotle and Pliny the Elder, theorized that the human brain was comprised of water, just like the oceans. They deduced that, like the oceans, the moon has the power to impact the water on our brains, making people act irrationally. This was considered solid science for centuries.
The Moon and Werewolves
The full moon has long been linked to strange, mystical stuff, but none as well-known as the werewolf legends. As any Twilight fan can tell you, infected humans are transformed into werewolves by the light of a full moon. Once transformed, they ravage the countryside in a blood-thirsty reign of violence. While we now know that the werewolf legend is nothing more than a myth, it may have gotten its start because of unexplained wolf attacks on people and livestock that coincidentally happened near full moons.
An Increase in Violence?
In the last several decades, it was widely thought that the full moon caused a spike in crime, accidents, and crazy behavior. Ask any police officer, emergency room doctor, or kindergarten teacher, and they will attest to this. The evidence is merely anecdotal, however. Study after study has proven that there is no correlation between the full moon and odd behavior. Today’s Friday the 13th’s full moon is most likely not a reason to be alarmed. Instead, view it as a unique opportunity to kick off the upcoming Halloween season, albeit a bit early.
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