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Question: "What is the meaning of Friday the 13th?"

Answer:
Friday the 13th occurs from one to three times per year when the 13th day of any month falls on a Friday. The fear of Friday the 13th is called “paraskevidekatriaphobia,” a word derived from the Greek words Paraskeví (Friday) and dekatreís (thirteen), attached to phobia (fear). Some people are so paralyzed by paraskevidekatriaphobia that they avoid normal activities, and some refuse to travel on that day. Friday the 13th is thought to be a day of unlucky events, although the origins of such ideas are unclear. Consequently, several theories have been proposed about the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition.

One theory states that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that thirteen is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day. Combining two unlucky elements into one day would make it all the more fearsome, and so it has become. In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve signs of the zodiac, twelve hours of the clock, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve apostles of Jesus, twelve gods of Olympus, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners since Jesus was arrested and crucified after the Passover meal He shared with His twelve disciples (Matthew 26–27). The fact that He was crucified on a Friday also adds credence to this theory.

Other theories regarding the origin of Friday the 13th include a Norse myth involving Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility, whose name means “Friday.” When Christianity came to her country, Frigga was denounced as a witch and banished to the mountains where, it was believed, she convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil on Fridays to plot revenge and ill turns of fate for the coming week. For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was known as “Witches' Sabbath.”

Another theory about the origin of the superstition traces the event to the arrest of the legendary Knights Templar, a monastic military order founded in Jerusalem in A.D. 1119, whose mission was to protect Christian pilgrims during the Crusades. Because the Knights Templar had amassed wealth and power, French King Philip IV secretly ordered the arrest of all the Knights Templar in France on Friday, October 13, 1307. The connection between the superstition and the Knights Templar was popularized in the 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code.

Some have been known to take advantage of the irrational fear of Friday the 13th and have capitalized upon it for monetary gain. The release of certain books, movies and music albums that depict mysticism and/or evil have been timed to coincide with the day. The 13th book in A Series of Unfortunate Events was released on Friday, October 13, 2006, by Lemony Snicket, also known as novelist Daniel Handler. Music group Black Sabbath’s debut album was released on Friday the 13th in October 1970. Four of the twelve films in the Friday the 13th series, were released on a Friday the 13th, although considering the other eight were released on other days, it would appear the date was inconsequential to the marketing. The film 2012 was released on Friday, November 13, 2009.

Fear of Friday the 13th is based on superstition, and as such it has no place in the mind or heart of Christians. No day or date is to be feared by those who belong to God through Jesus Christ. Everything that happens is under the control of our sovereign God who rules every event in the universe and never allows superstitions or the schemes of men to thwart His divine will and plan (Isaiah 46:11). Furthermore, attending to superstitions and old wives’ tales and planning our lives around them can provide an opening for Satan who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

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