The typical explanation is that it is a recalling of the last supper, where Judas Iscariot, who is said to have betrayed Jesus Christ, was the 13th to arrive. Of course, had Judas not done so, would Christianity have existed? After all, the whole idea of Christianity is based around the torturous death Christ was put through. Had Christ died because he choked on a fish-bone later in the week or some such, I expect it hardly would have been seen as something worthy of taking on the sins of all mankind. In that respect, it seems we should be considering 13 the luckiest of numbers.
But no matter, there is an alternative explanation, one that unfortunately shows a darker side of humanity. In this explanation, thirteen was seen as a positive number, connected to the lunar cycle, and hence to menstruation and rebirth.
Thirteen, therefore, is the number associated with blood, fertility and lunar potency. In Ancient Mexico it was the number of regeneration. In ancient Israel it was sanctified and 13 is the age of the bar mitzvah. In wicca a coven has 13. The Egyptians thought life as 13 stages, the last of which is eternal life. Held holy in honor of Shekinah, the female aspect of God, Friday was observed as the day of Her special celebrations. Friday is still the sabbath for those of Jewish or Muslim faith, and is sacred to Oshun, the vodoun goddess of femininity, and to Frig, the Norse goddess of fertility, creativity, love, and sex. The day itself is named for several mother goddesses, including Frig, Freya, Fir, etc. It was originally Frigs Day. In Latin Friday is the day of Venus, which is where the French get Vendredi.
All of which means that, if you’re an upstart religion, trying to get people to worship a single male deity figure instead of a wealth of female ones, you want to get people out of the habit of thinking that this is all a good thing. So a deliberate campaign to connect the number, and the day, not to women in general, but to witches and the devil ensued. And it largely worked for a good number of years.
However, as society grows more secular, the power of the number, and the day, has dwindled. I expect most of you hadn’t even thought about this day being an unlucky one, or scoffed if you did, but we should remember the day’s origins. As war and terrorism engulfs the Middle East, what it means that a religion might choose to change the very meaning of a day, simply to advance their own status in society, should strike us as a very real concern. And while I know there are many who take comfort in spirituality, the idea that our code of conduct should be based on faith, literally on that which cannot have evidence, should be questioned.
Because the evidence we have, in places like Kfar Aza, or in Gaza city, shows us the dangers that following faith, following leaders who require no evidence, can lead to.
It’s not the date that makes a day unlucky. It’s our actions.