Today is Friday the 13th, our irregular dose of Halloween spookiness. Besides being the title of a horror movie in which a very young Kevin Bacon dies, everyone knows Friday the 13th means bad luck. Why is this something we all know? Friday the 13th might actually come from centuries of patriarchal erasure of goddess religions.
After reading an awesome Instagram post from the Hood Witch, we decided to look into this. One of the most cited reasons behind Friday 13th is the presence of a 13th guest at the Last Supper: Judas Iscariot. Judas would go on to betray Jesus, which resulted in the latter’s crucifixion on a Friday. Friday was also known as hangman’s day, and was believed to be the day of the week that Eve tasted the forbidden fruit and shared it with her boo, Adam.
Another reason given for this fear of Friday the 13th was an incident in medieval France (of course), where King Philip IV arrested hundreds of the Knight Templar on Friday October 13, 1307. History.com writes that the king later had them executed.
A lot of unlucky things have happened on Fridays that were the 13th day of the month. For all you psychology nerds out there, Kitty Genovese was murdered on Friday the 13th in 1964. Tupac was murdered on Friday the 13th.
Donna Hennes, an urban shaman, has written that we’ve got it all wrong when it comes to Friday the 13th. Hennes says that the number 13 and Friday used to be held in high regard. People with periods menstruate on average 13 times a year. This lines up with 13 lunar cycles in a year. 13 is the number of the Great Goddess. 13 is a sacred number in Judaism: tabernacles are made of 13 items; and children are ushered into adulthood at the age of 13 in Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs.
Fridays also haven’t always been bad, something anyone who works 9-5 Monday through Friday can attest to. The Jewish Sabbath begins Friday evening, and Muslims have a congregational prayer, jumu'ah, on Fridays. Friday was sacred to multiple goddesses and cultures across the globe, from the Yoruba peoples to the Anglo-Saxons. Friday was Venus’s day in Latin.
Today, instead of predicting doom and gloom, embrace the Friday the 13th revered outside of a white patriarchy. Let’s take back Friday the 13th and make it a day of good luck.
first published April 13, 2018
Top Image: Venus and Anchises by Sir William Blake Richmond
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Anna Greer was an editorial intern spring 2018 and is a senior at the University of Tennessee, where she studies comics and human rights. When she is not engaged in feminist activism, she usually can be found wearing Doc Martens and looking at Star Wars prequel memes. Follow her @activistanna42