A Norse myth says the fear of Friday the 13th began when 12 gods gathered for a dinner party and failed to invite the trickster god, Loki, who arrived as the 13th guest and killed Balder with a mistletoe-tipped arrow.
“Balder died, and the whole Earth got dark. The whole Earth mourned. It was a bad, unlucky day,” writes folklore historian Donald Dossey. From that day on, anything involving the number 13 was considered unlucky.
Dossey writes that the superstition has some basis with “originating from the story of Jesus’ last supper and crucifixion” where 13 people were present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday.
In 1869, Henry Sutherland Edwards’ biography of Gioachino Rossini notes he died on Friday the 13th:
He [Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring friends; and if it be true that, like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that on Friday 13th of November he passed away.
Wikipedia suggests Thomas W. Lawson’s novel, Friday the Thirteenth, added to the superstition with a story of a fraudulent broker who “took advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on Friday the 13th.
Other stories say Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knight Templar on Friday, Oct. 13, 1307,
Which is our long-winded way of saying “welcome to Friday the 13th on Nov. 13, 2020.”
On the Friday, the 13th, outgoing president Donald Trump woke up to news that Arizona’s election count confirmed last week’s declaration that Joe Biden, a Democrat, broke years of election losses by Democrats in that state with a win, adding to his widening Electoral College vote to put his victory, so far, to 290-217.
To win, Biden only needed 270, so he is up by 20 in a race where he is the declared winner even though Trump refusing to concede.
Will Trump admit the obvious on this Friday, the 13th? Probably not. Accepting fact has never stood in the way of his habit of peddling fiction.
Down in Asheville, NC, the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute estimates that up to 21 million residents of the United States fear Friday the 13th, making it “the most feared day and date in history.”
Some, the Institute says, are “so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed.” Of course, in this year of the COVID-19 pandemic, such effects are lessened by fears of catching the virus and dying.
In a normal year, up to $900 million is lost in business on Friday the 13th, the Institute adds.
With that in mind, what are you doing on this Friday, the 13th?
I’m staying home, drinking coffee, reading a book and doing a jigsaw puzzle with my cat.