Party Like A Pagan, Unless You Have Paraskavedekatriaphobia*

friday 13th

* Fear of Friday the 13th (a.k.a.: Triskaidekaphobia or Friggatriskaidekaphobia)

We hope you’re holding a horseshoe, a rabbit's foot or an elephant (with its trunk raised) as you read this.

It is a dreaded “Friday the 13th” – a superstitious date in Western European and North American culture.

Oddly, if we were alive 2,000-plus years ago, we'd be celebrating this event, rather than warning you about your impending doom. Prior to the advent of Christianity, you see, Friday the 13th was considered something of a fortuitous occasion.

In the pre-Christian, Pagan good ol' days, Friday was the best day of the week. It's the only day of the week, for instance, named after a woman: the Norse goddess Freya (a.k.a. Frigga), who represented fertility and sexuality. Hey, Thank God It's Friggin' Freyaday.

Many Scandinavians, Germans, Scots of Norlandic origin, and other Teutons and distant descendants of sub-Arctic Pagans still think that Friday is the best day of the week for romantic endeavours. It's a popular day for wedding ceremonies in northern Europe - again, because of the promise it holds for a fertile union.

Christianity, of course, doesn't take such a kindly view of Friday - first and foremost because it was the day of Christ's crucifixion.

Death also hovered over the day's reputation in old England and even North America because most criminals convicted of capital offences were put to death on Fridays. Hence, it was sometimes referred to as "Hangman's Day". The fact that many gallows were constructed with 13 steps up to the fatal platform didn't help matters.

For one reason or another, post-Pagan days saw Fridays frowned upon for a variety of activities. To this day, in some cultures, superstitious people won't set sail on a ship on a Friday, or move their household, or start a new job, or write a letter, or knit (?!), or cut their fingernails (??!!).

There's quite a contrast, too, when it comes to the Pagan-versus-Christian views on the number 13.

For the Pagans, again, 13 had favourably frisky connotations, pertaining to the lunar calendar, the female menstrual cycle and - yup - fertility.

For Christianity, conversely, 13 represents the number of individuals at The Last Supper - one of whom, of course, was the traitorous Judas.

Thus, two millennia ago, Friday the 13th was a doubly great day for our Pagan ancestors - absolutely dripping with fertility and sexuality.

Subsequently, however, this particular day became a double-downer. That is especially true of its reputation in the Christian culture, in which Friday the 13th represents, in two ways, the downfall and crucifixion of Jesus.

So, we suppose, we shall wish all of our heathen, Druid readers a happy and fertile Friday the 13th. Party on, Pagans!

And, as for all of the rest of you - Christian, superstitious, or both - rub those rabbit's feet and clench those four-leaf clovers. Let's try to survive unscathed until the calendar flips over to Saturday the 14th.