Friday the Thirteenth

How was it for you? Are you one of those people who ascribe anything bad happening to “It’s Friday the Thirteenth”? Or do you pay no attention to such ancient superstitions?

I was going to write this yesterday, but you know, distractions. I hadn’t even thought about it until I was in the bank and the teller made some joke because she couldn’t find a stapler with staples in it.

Anyway, Fridays have been considered unlucky for far longer than Friday the Thirteenths. Some association in early Christian minds to the crucifixion of Christ. The earliest records we have (and of which I am aware) of Fridays being unlucky are medieval. From Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343-1400), in fact, who made some passing reference in The Canterbury Tales.

The bad luck of Friday the Thirteenth is both newer and older in its superstition. Newer in that there is no written record of such a superstition before 1869. Older in that one reason given for it is that in 1307, on Friday 13th of October, the leaders of the Knights Templar were arrested and summarily executed by Philip IV of France, which led to the disbanding of the Order five years later by Pope Clement V.

Philip, by the way, was deeply in debt to the Order, and many of the members were tortured into giving false confessions admitting the charges against them. Which caused a scandal, because they admitted, among other things, heresy, apostasy, obscene rituals, homosexuality, financial corruption and fraud. They had, after all, helped to establish Christian banking (previously, banks had been solely in the hands of Jews, Christians being forbidden to use or practise such dirty things as money lending. Apparently it didn’t count if you borrowed from a non-Christian) after the expulsion of Jews from Christendom. 

Anyway, that’s another story. Friday the Thirteenth only became popularly a day of bad luck during the Twentieth Century. So the one just gone. Which is interesting, given the Age of Reason and Rationality.

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