Today is Friday again, the 13th of August. The only one this year. Some might consider it scary, perhaps due to the American horror franchise that comprises twelve slasher films and more since the 1980s. But what about the feelings towards this day before Americans commercialised it?
According to EarthSky:
According to folklorists, there’s no written evidence that Friday the 13th was considered unlucky before the 19th century. The earliest known documented reference in English appears to be in Henry Sutherland Edwards’ 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini.
Still, Friday has always gotten a bad rap. In the Middle Ages, people would not marry – or set out on a journey – on a Friday.
You probably have seen that depending on the part of the world, even planes might miss row number 13. Nevertheless, Friday has been usually a busy day in aviation, Thus, at least in this metric, we are certainly out of the Middle Ages.
There are also some links between Christianity and an ill association with either Fridays or the number 13. Jesus was said to be crucified on a Friday. Seating 13 people at a table was seen as bad luck because Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, is said to have been the 13th guest at the Last Supper.
Meanwhile, our word for Friday comes from Frigga, an ancient Scandinavian fertility and love goddess. Christians called Frigga a witch and Friday the witches’ Sabbath.
Going deeper into the battle between ancient traditions and modern Christianity rewriting the story, there is a deeper take on the topic also at CNN:
If we dig deeper, though, we also find evidence that both Fridays and the number 13 have long been regarded as a harbinger of good fortune. In pagan times, for instance, Friday was believed to have a unique association with the divine feminine. The first clue can actually be found in the weekday name Friday, which is derived from Old English and means "day of Frigg." Both Queen of Asgard and a powerful sky goddess in Norse mythology, Frigg (also known as Frigga) was associated with love, marriage and motherhood.
Frigg gave protection to homes and families, maintained social order, and could weave fate as she did the clouds. She also possessed the art of prophecy, and could bestow or remove fertility. On the other hand, Freyja, the goddess of love, fertility and war with whom Frigg was often conflated, was endowed with the power to perform magic, predict the future, and determine who would die in battles, and was said to ride a chariot pulled by two black cats. These goddesses were worshiped widely across Europe and, because of these associations, Friday was considered a lucky day for marriage by Norse and Teutonic people.
The number 13, meanwhile, has long been regarded as a portentous number by pre-Christian and goddess-worshipping cultures for its link to the number of lunar and menstrual cycles that occur in a calendar year. Fertility was prized in pagan times, and artwork would often draw connections to menstruation, fertility and the phases of the moon.Take the Venus of Laussel, an approximately 25,000-year-old limestone carving depicting a voluptuous female figure cradling her pregnant stomach with one hand, and holding a crescent-shaped horn bearing 13 notches in the other. Many scholars believe the figurine may have represented a goddess of fertility in a ritual or ceremony, while the 13 lines are typically read as a reference to the lunar or menstrual cycle, both of which symbolize feminine power.
So, today, being the only Friday the 13th this year should be celebrated as Feminine Power Day instead!
But what happened to these celebrations?
As Christianity gained momentum in the Middle Ages, however, paganism stood at odds with the new patriarchal faith. Not only did its leaders take objection to the worship of multiple gods and goddesses, but the celebration of Friday, the number 13, and the goddesses who invoked love, sex, fertility, magic and pleasure were deemed unholy.
So revered were these deities, though, that making people relinquish them proved a real challenge. But Christian authorities persisted with their campaign, branding both the deities and the women who worshiped them witches.
"When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch," Panati writes. "It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil -- a gathering of thirteen -- and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week."
So, when in aviation we have overcome the fear of starting the journeys on Fridays, perhaps it is now about time to overcome the branding team generated fear of the Middle Ages and take steps to bring back the good name of this joyful day and celebrate it as Feminine Power Day!
Wishing all women today a wonderful love-filled day of magic and pleasure!
Cover photo credit: "Venus of Laussel" by Wikimedia Commons