Tag Archives: code of hammurabi

Friday the Thirteenth

13th calendar

It’s Friday the 13th in New Zealand – it will come to your place in the next few hours if it hasn’t already arrived.

Friday the 13th is the most widespread superstition in the Western world.  Some people refuse to go to work on Friday the 13th; some won’t eat in restaurants and many would not consider setting this as a date for a wedding or other large celebration.

According to our good friend Wikipedia “The fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom “Friday” is named and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number thirteen)”  So we have a name for this phobia.

But from where did this superstition arise?  The number 13 has been considered unlucky for centuries. Some say the superstition began with 13 people who attended the Last Supper, but ancient Babylon’s Code of Hammurabi omits the number 13 in its list of laws, so the superstition dates back to at least 1700 BC.

It appears that Friday’s bad reputation goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden.  Apparently it was a Friday when Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit.  We are told that the Great Flood began on a Friday; God tongue-tied the builders of the Tower of Babel on a Friday; and it was on a Friday that the Temple of Solomon was destroyed.  And Friday was the day of the week on which Christ was crucified.

In pagan Rome, Friday was execution day and later Hangman’s Day in Britain

But the association of Friday with the number 13 didn’t arise until the 20th  century.  In 1907, Thomas Lawson a Boston stockbroker, published a book called Friday the Thirteenth.  This told the story of one man’s attempt to crash the stock market on the unluckiest day of the month.  The book sold nearly 28,000 copies in the first week.
Wall Street’s superstitions about Friday the 13th continued and in 1925 the New York Times declared that people “would no more buy or sell a share of stock today than they would walk under a ladder or kick a black cat out of their path.”
Even today most tall buildings don’t have a thirteenth floor.
So are you superstitious about this day?  In 2012 Friday the 13th will occur three times – January, April and July – so if you are you will have to watch out on those three days,