Is Friday the 13th a Bad Day?

Happy Friday the 13th, paraskevidekatriaphobes! I’m just stopping off at the blog to type up a quick post on an interesting subject.

Why is this day considered unlucky? Like many elements of folklore and superstition, it’s hard to trace; but the most accepted theory is that it stems from medieval contemplation of Christian elements.

It’s pretty easy to see why Friday might be considered unlucky; it was the day of the week when Christ died, after all. The fear of the number 13 is likewise thought to stem from the death of Christ: that is, the Last Supper involved 13 people and took place on the 13th of Nisan.

Of course, this correlation is contrary to Catholicism. In addition to the condemnation of superstition as “the deviation of religious feeling” (CCC 2111), why would God condemn one day of the week or one number as being somehow better or worse than the others? Even Sundays are not inherently better than other days; they are simply used to mark particular religious practices.

Sure, I have a whole article on the religious significance of March 25th, celebrating the symbolism inherent in that date; but there is nothing about that specific point on the calendar that makes it inherently good or bad. To put it another way: if the calendar were replaced with something completely different, would the luckiness or unluckiness of that particular day remain? Dates like March 25th and Friday the 13th have cultural significance, nothing more. The Pope could move even the dates of Easter and Christmas; there are no commandments from God saying that those specific times must be observed.

(And to those who might want to object to that claim, since Easter is based on Passover: have you noticed that Passover and Easter don’t always line up? Or that the Eastern churches don’t use the same liturgical calendar as Rome, and yet are still considered valid?)

But there’s an even greater argument against Friday the 13th being a particularly “bad” day for no other reason than the date. It has to do with what today is. Today is the 99th anniversary of the first apparition at Fatima.

fatima3

Not only did Our Lady appear to the children five more times, each time on the 13th of the month, but July 13th, 1917, fell on a Friday.

That’s right. Even if it’s true that the fear of Fridays and the number 13 stem from a Christian source, the Mother of God appeared on Friday the 13th. I can just imagine God telling Mary “Okay, this Friday the 13th thing has gone on long enough. Mind making it a holiday?”

So I genuinely wish you all a great Friday the 13th! Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

About Matthew Bowman

Matthew Bowman is a traditionally-minded Catholic convert and freelance science fiction and fantasy editor, which means that he's in high demand in a small population. Fortunately, he loves talking about stories. And Catholicism. And history. And philosophy. And lots of other stuff.
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