What Does Friday the 13th Symbolize? Exploring Superstitions Surrounding the Date

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What Does Friday the 13th Symbolize? Exploring Superstitions Surrounding the Date
The official start of Halloween is here. Now that the oppressive summer heat has finally subsided, people are coming together to detest sweet corn, and a yassified jack-o'-lantern has taken over Tik Tok.

However, there's nothing quite as eerie as an October Friday the Thirteenth, and this year is no exception. One to three times a year, the thirteenth day of the month falls on a Friday. This Friday the 13th is the second one that it will occur this year (the last one occurred in January), and it won't occur again until September 2024.

Though the slasher movie series may have contributed to the fear of Friday the 13th, where did the superstition come from?

Rethinking the Anthropology of Magic and Witchcraft: Inherently Human author Dr. Phil Stevens, a retired anthropology professor from the University of Buffalo, discussed the festival and its association with "magical thinking" in an interview with USA TODAY.

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Among the types of magical thinking are taboos, good luck numbers, and superstitions.
According to Stevens, he loves to use the superstition surrounding Friday the 13th as an illustration of magical thinking. According to him, magical thinking occurs when a person assumes that two seemingly unconnected items are causally interconnected. For instance, when Friday and 13 occur on the same day, they have a distinct meaning together.

Additionally, he considers it forbidden because superstition, especially when applied to one's own beliefs, carries a negative connotation.

"In actuality, the term taboo fits this type of belief. Since the phrase denotes staying away from making a mystical connection. Although people are aware of the links between things and can actively employ magic to make things happen, they avoid making connections that could lead to unfavourable outcomes." stated Stevens.

Some people search for meaningful connections among various objects. For instance, because the number eight is lucky, China began the 2008 Olympics at 8:08 p.m. on the eighth day of the eighth month.

According to Stevens, another instance would be if someone had a good luck charm or valued something more because it had belonged to a famous person.

According to Stevens, Friday the 13th combines two biblical taboos. Thirteen individuals sat around the table on a Thursday, based on the account of Jesus' Last Supper. That evening, he was taken into custody, and the following Friday, he was crucified.

Thus, 13 is connected to that awful incident. And on Friday, the 13th, you're in for a double treat. The crucifixion, which occurred on a Friday, and the taboo against 13 come together as two distinct factors, according to Stevens.

According to Stevens, the taboo didn't become widely accepted until a millennium after Jesus's story, when more people had an interest in the bible, despite the fact that it is connected to the Last Supper. He now believes that the stigma is eroding as more people accept the number 13, and it will eventually go.

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According to Stevens, taboos, lucky numbers, and superstitions are all components of the human urge for order in an absurd universe.

"I suggest that some form of superstitious behaviour will be eternal," Stevens stated. We'll also see some sort of magical thinking, as it allows us a certain amount of control. Given how big, complicated, impersonal, and unpredictable the world is, it is consoling to feel that you have some control over it."

According to Stevens, all of these behaviors—like avoiding black cats, cracks in the sidewalk, and peering over your shoulder on Friday the 13th—make you entirely human.